Sam Burgess “didn’t have the stomach” to fight for his future in rugby union, says Bath head coach Mike Ford.
Cross-code convert Burgess left Bath after only one year of a three-year deal to re-join Australian rugby league side South Sydney Rabbitohs last week.
Burgess, 26, said his “heart wasn’t in” rugby union.
“For me this was the time to roll his sleeves up and become the player that I thought he could be and he chose not to,” said Ford.
“It wasn’t until the final talk I had with him that I felt there was nothing more I could do.
“But I did speak to him about that and about what a fantastic player he could be, and about the investment the club and the players had made in him, and that it was time to repay that.
“But he chose differently.”
Told about Ford’s comments at a Rabbitohs news conference following his arrival in Sydney, Burgess said: “Mike might be a bit upset.
“Fordy is entitled to what he wants to say. It is more a reflection on him than me.”
‘A lot of lads would die for this club’
Burgess revealed that Bath captain Stuart Hooper prevented the former England centre from addressing the squad after opting to leave – a decision that Ford defended.
Bath and England fly-half George Ford – Mike Ford’s son – said the team did not not want an added distraction before last weekend’s Premiership game against London Irish, which they won 45-14.
“A lot of lads would die for this club,” George Ford told BBC Points West.
“A lot of lads have been here since they were young, coming up through the academy, and have served this club for as long as they can and for someone to come in and not maybe do the same thing upset a few lads.
“It was a great decision by Stuart as we wanted to focus our energy into putting in a good performance against London Irish and I think that worked out pretty well.”