Players past and present have paid tribute to Sam Burgess after he announced on Wednesday that he was to retire from playing rugby league immediately.

The former South Sydney Rabbitohs, Bradford Bulls, England and Great Britain star made the decision to retire from the sport following a chronic shoulder problem.

Former Wigan Warriors , Wests Tigers, Parramatta Eels and Catalans Dragons winger Pat Richards led the tributes by saying: “Sam Burgess what a great career. I loved the way he played. The ultimate Rugby League player.”

Burgess – who was a product of the Dewsbury Moor community club – made his Super League debut for Bradford in 2006 before moving to Australia for the start of the 2010 season with the Bunnies.

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He spent four season with Souths before switching codes with Bath ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. His spell in union was short lived as he was back with the Bunnies for the start of the 2016 NRL season.

Former international team-mate and friend, James Graham was quick to commend Burgess on a great career and admits it’s a sad day for the sport.

Graham told “I think from a personal point of view as a team-mate and a friend I’m disappointed for him and the circumstances. But it’s a consequence of the way he goes about his business and plays the game. I genuinely hope that he’s at peace with his position.

“I remember times playing against the Kiwis and he would say “come on, we need ya.” Because his voice carries so much presence and weight he was able to drag me through it. He has that presence. He was phenomenal to play with, a true inspiration. He squeezed every ounce of talent out of this playing group every time he played for us. He was someone you wanted to be alongside.”

Current Australia coach Mal Meninga also had his say on the matter from the Kangaroos training camp in Auckland ahead of their international match against Tonga Invatational on Saturday.

He said: “He’s been a great warrior and fella for our game. That is sad news for our game. Knowing Sam he will be disappointed. It’s tragic.

“He doesn’t deserve to go out that way. He deserves to go out on his own terms. For an injury to prevent him from playing any more, it’s a real tragedy.”

It’s not just the world of rugby league that will miss Burgess. England cricketer Stuart Broad said: “Congrats on a special career, legend @SamBurgess8”