THE Rugby League Cares charity has announced that legendary former Bradford Bulls star Sam Burgess will be joining them on their epic fundraising cycling adventure, the Empire State 500.

Burgess, who also played for South Sydney Rabbitohs, Great Britain and England in both codes, will help lead 20 riders on a gruelling 500-mile off-road cycling challenge from the spectacular Niagara Falls to Manhattan, in early May.

Now holding down an administration role at the Sydney side, Burgess has been inspired to do the ride by the plight of Rob Burrow, the ex-Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain star who has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

All funds that Burgess raises on the ride will be split between Burrow and RL Cares, the sport’s official charity in the UK, which has the responsibility of looking after the welfare of professional players and supporting people in the sport when they most need it.

Burgess, 31, was forced to retire last October due to a chronic shoulder injury, which prematurely brought down the curtain on a glittering career that featured 270 games for Bradford and Souths, 26 international rugby league appearances and five caps for England Rugby Union.

“I was really moved when I heard of Rob’s diagnosis: MND is a horrible disease and one that my own family know all too well from losing our dad, Mark, to it back in 2007,” said Burgess.

“When the docs advised me not to play again last year because of my crocked shoulder, it was devastating news, but Rob’s situation puts everything into perspective.

“Cycling all the way from Niagara Falls to New York City is going to be a massive challenge but it will be a real privilege and an honour to do it for Rob and RL Cares, who make such a positive difference to people’s lives.

“I’d like to thank Souths for their understanding in giving me time off to join the Empire State 500. I’m looking forward to it. The training is going to be tough, but not as tough as it will be for the other riders riding through the cold and wet of an English winter.

“The rugby league family is amazing and I hope Australian fans will get behind this and help us raise as much as we can for two great causes.”

The Empire State 500 riders will fly into Canada on Friday, May 1 and attend the Toronto Wolfpack v St Helens Super League fixture the following day.

After a short coach ride to Niagara, the riders set off from the shadow of the famous waterfalls on Sunday morning on their 500-mile ride, which concludes in Central Park, Manhattan, on Friday May 8.

To sponsor Burgess on his great American adventure for Burrow and RL Cares, please visit