John Bateman has issued a powerful statement in tribute to his childhood idol, Sam Burgess.

Sam Burgess announced this morning his decision to retire with immediate effect, owing to issues relating to a shoulder injury.

And Bateman was among the many to pay tribute, having followed in Burgess’s footsteps by joining Bradford,

He said: “As a young English kid growing up all I wanted to do was be like you.

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“Then I got the chance to meet and become friends with you and to play alongside you, which was a dream come true.

“You’re a inspiration to every Rugby League player for what you have done – and become – in the game, and most of all you’re a unbelievable bloke.

“Enjoy your retirement, you legend.”