South Sydney Rabbitohs fans might have to wait a little longer to see club legend Sam Burgess return to a rugby league field with Greg Inglis saying the dual international would not suit up for the World All Stars.
The game against the Indigenous All Stars at Suncorp Stadium on February 13 was meant to be Burgess' first league game since the code-hopper left Bath last November.
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"No he's not playing in that [All Stars Game]... we're just easing him back and he's pulled out of that," Inglis told Fairfax Media. "Sammy knows his body better than anyone else so if he doesn't feel like he's up to it well then he's not up to it."
South Sydney were still holding out hope and a club spokesman said a formal decision on Burgess' availability will be made in the coming weeks.
Either way, the return of Burgess to the Redfern side has lifted the atmosphere of a depleted changing room that has seen players such as Issac Luke, Dylan Walker, Chris McQueen, Tim Grant, Glenn Stewart and Ben Lowe leaving to fit Burgess under the salary cap.
Inglis is confident his talismanic forward has come back a better player after a tumultuous year in rugby union that saw Burgess controversially selected for England's Rugby World Cup squad and eventually made a scapegoat after England became the first host nation not to make it out of the group stages.
"I think with the experience that he's had leaving the game and coming back, I think he knows in himself that this is what he wants. It's like any player that goes away from a different environment and ends up going back and realises what they've lost and I think Sam's realised that," Inglis said. "That's made him a better player. He's a great leader. He was always a great leader off the field and even on the field. We have a lot of young blokes here and I think having Sammy here will help a lot of the young forwards."
But while the Rabbitohs will be keen to see Burgess replicating his devastating running game that helped them clinch their first premiership title in 43 years in 2014, the club has been easing the 27-year-old back into his first full week of training.
Inglis said the Clive Churchill medallist had been training well by the side, putting "some volume and Ks [kilometres] in his legs" as well as a skill session with the rest of the team after a lengthy spell out of the code.
The Australian international also believes Burgess has not lost any sense of the game, maintaining the sort of athleticism that has made him such a force on the paddock. The full-back has had an extended off-season, enjoying a break without any international commitments or needing any surgery for the first time in four years.
The State of Origin star, who turned 29 on Friday, said his body was feeling "great" with no concerns about his knee after injuring it in round 24 last season. Inglis has spent plenty of time with his wife and 19-month-old son this summer, relaxing in idyllic locations like Bali, Fiji and Hamilton Island, and credits his family for helping him focus on the pitch.
"It's changed everything about the way I live my life. I probably wouldn't come back in the shape I am five years ago to be completely honest. It's great that home life is nice and settled and that just reflects the frame of mind when I turn up for training each and every day," he said. "It [off-season] just mentally refreshes your mind and I just want to jump straight back into it right now."