Former NRL star Sam Burgess has revealed his relationship with ex-wife Phoebe has been “much harder” than he believed it would be following their separation.
In an emotional interview, the 32-year-old has opened up on his marriage breakdown just weeks after Phoebe spoke publicly about trying to move on from “a lot of pain, a lot of trauma and a lot of ugly stuff” that emerged during their split.
The retired South Sydney champion was found guilty in February of intimidating his estranged father-in-law, Mitchell Hooke, as the troubles in his and Phoebe’s relationship played out publicly. However, that conviction was overturned on appeal in March.
Their relationship breakdown has returned to the headlines recently as a result of Burgess’ appearance on hit reality TV show SAS: Australia where the Englishman previously spoke of turning to “drinking (and) drugs” during his tumultuous divorce, confessing he had “lost it all”.
He is continuing to piece his life back together and has now told Stellar in an exclusive interview his children Poppy, 4, and William, 2, are the reason he is confronting his demons.
When asked about the relationship that now exists between himself and Phoebe, Burgess said he still “cares” about his former partner.
“It is much harder than I thought it would be,” Burgess said.
“Essentially, I still think it is the right decision for us both… I still care about Phoebe, we have two amazing kids. We just didn’t work out as a married couple. We should work out as parents and that, to me, is the most important thing right now. I’m trying to better myself so we can be better co-parents, which is my ultimate goal in this situation.”
Phoebe said in April it was Poppy and Billy that had helped her hold her life together as they family was being pulled apart.
“I have days where I want to give up and fall apart and I just want to break – I want to go to sleep and not wake up for a while, for everything to stop, but you can’t,” Phoebe said.
“It sounds awful but being trapped in motherhood and being trapped in responsibility has saved my life.”
Phoebe said Poppy and Billy are “my purpose”, adding: “I’m really proud that through the loss and grief, they’ve never felt it. They’ve been so loved and I don’t think they ever felt anything was taken from them.”
Burgess’ new revelations about trying to turn his life around include confirmation he voluntarily chose to enter a rehabilitation facility for 28 days and another categorical denial in response to suggestions his former football club had been involved in a deliberate attempt to cover up aspects of his private life.
The former Rabbitohs captain retired from the NRL back in 2019 due to a shoulder injury, but his personal life has kept him in the headlines.
In May, Burgess pleaded guilty to three driving charges following a February 22 police traffic stop where he tested positive for cocaine. He landed two $581 fines and was ordered to complete a traffic offenders program.
The ex-footy star has since revealed he has stopped drinking completely in an attempt to change his life for the better.
Read the full interview with Sam Burgess in the current issue of Stellar, available in the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun, on sale Sunday, August 15.