Burgess confirmed on Wednesday he had played his 182nd and final game for South Sydney after the extent of the injury became apparent following a routine operation this year.
“This decision was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my life, however the decision was out of my hands essentially,” the Souths captain said. “I am no longer able to be myself day-in, day-out on the training field and consequently the playing field.”
The 30-year-old forward’s retirement comes with three years remaining on his multi-million-dollar contract. He was personally recruited by Souths co-owner and actor Russell Crowe ahead of the 2010 season and won the Clive Churchill medal as the most valuable player in their 2014 grand final win.
He was named their player of the year in 2014, 2016 and 2017 after missing the 2015 season in a switch to rugby union. Burgess also played 88 games for Bradford in the English Super League, 24 league tests for England and represented England at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Burgess is one of four rugby league-playing brothers — younger brothers Tom and George were his teammates at the Rabbitohs, while older brother Luke retired after playing in England and Australia.