Sam Burgess
Sam Burgess will join Bath in OctoberReuters

England rugby league star Sam Burgess has signed a three-year contract with union side Bath and could be considered for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The 25-year-old has been released from Australian NRL side South Sydney Rabbitohs for an undisclosed fee and will leave at the end of the season.

The forward moves after agreeing to terms last week at Premiership club Bath who are believed to have paid around £270,000.

Burgess says he is excited about the challenge his move to Bath represents, telling the Rabbitohs' website: "With 2015 being a Rugby World Cup [year], it was an opportunity I had to pursue and I thank the Rabbitohs for allowing me to make this move and start the next chapter in my sporting career."

Burgess joins a host of dual-code players who have switched from league to union, among which include 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Jason Robinson and Great Britain and Wigan rugby league captain Andy Farrell.

Farrell, father of England fly-half Owen, was appointed by England Rugby to join their coaching team under Stuart Lancaster in 2011.

Bath head coach Mike Ford looks forward to welcoming his club's new addition despite having originally believed that the Rugby Football Union would pay for Burgess' release fee.

The RFU however detached themselves from the deal for fear of a negative response from other Premiership sides.

"I've known Sam since his rugby league days in England and he is an exceptionally talented athlete," said Ford, a former rugby league player himself.

"I've no doubt Sam will fit in seamlessly here at Bath and we're looking forward to having him join us and start making the transition."

Six months ago Burgess made rugby league history by playing alongside his brothers, Luke, Tom and George at the Rabbitohs, the first time in over a century that four siblings had played together in a top-flight league match in Australia.

Burgess meanwhile has vowed to keep up the hard work down under until his contract concludes and has received backing from former England centre Jeremy Guscott who believes that there is still time for Burgess to be involved in the approaching World Cup.

Meanwhile England head coach Stuart Lancaster, who met Burgess in Australia in August added: "There's a bigger picture about developing a team that goes way beyond 2015."