Sam Burgess has been through a divorce and a legal battle with his father-in-law, but the troubled sports star has found himself an unlikely mentor.
Sam Burgess has been through a divorce and a legal battle with his father-in-law, but the troubled sports star has found himself an unlikely mentor.

Muscle-bound missionary Sam’s unlikely saviour

He was a promising rugby league star who fell into a world of drugs and booze before an epiphany led him to God.

Now "missionary with muscles" Rob Quatro is the man helping to reform one of Australia's most troubled sporting figures.

Troubled teen Rob Quatro turned his life around when he found God.
Troubled teen Rob Quatro turned his life around when he found God.

Weeks after former Souths star Sam Burgess was spotted at the Pentecostal Metro church on the Gold Coast, it can be revealed that Quatro - an unconventional pastor and personal trainer who won a world bodybuilding title at age 44 - is the mystery confidant helping the NRL star make "big changes" in his life.

Burgess has just come through a high-profile divorce and a messy legal battle where he was charged but subsequently acquitted on appeal of intimidating his former father-in-law.

Sam Burgess has just come through a high-profile divorce and a legal battle. Picture: Christian Gilles
Sam Burgess has just come through a high-profile divorce and a legal battle. Picture: Christian Gilles

Initially introduced by mutual friends to be "training buddies" while Burgess spent several weeks on the Gold Coast preparing for a turn on Seven's reality hit Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, the pair soon forged a friendship which Quatro likens to a "father-son" relationship.

"But it certainly didn't start like that because initially when I was approached to train with Sam I thought, 'Oh no, not a footballer'," says Quatro, who ended his own league career in his late teens.

"And I think Sam was thinking the same thing, like: 'Who is this guy?'

"But we just clicked instantly and it sort of became this father-son kind of relationship because Sam is 32, which is the same age as my daughter.

 

Burgess with his mum Julie Burgess. Picture: Instagram
Burgess with his mum Julie Burgess. Picture: Instagram

 

The former NRL star with his kids at Coogee beach.
The former NRL star with his kids at Coogee beach.

"And we started communicating. He came to church a few times. He seemed to enjoy it and slowly I could see things began to change with him.

"I started to realise that Sam is a very special guy and an extremely soft individual inside, who was honest about everything. He has messed up and he knows he has messed up, and I think he would give anything to go back and change things.

"But he is making the steps now to make changes in his life."

Burgess's family - including mum Julie and older brother Luke - also noted a change in the former Souths skipper during a Sydney visit.

"They told me they could see a massive change in him already, which was huge after what he had been through and what he had been carrying around over the past year," Quatro said.

Quatro says his relationship with Burgess is like that of a father and son. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Quatro says his relationship with Burgess is like that of a father and son. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Quatro says he battled his own demons in his youth, spiralling into drug addiction in his late teens - and throwing away a promising rugby league career in the process - before "finding God" in his early 30s.

A rock-bottom moment led to an epiphany, when he asked for a "sign" and got it in the sky above the Gold Coast in 1996.

"I walked out on the balcony of the place where I was living and looked up and there was a sign-writing plane in the sky and it spelled out 'Jesus Loves You'. And that was it. I walked into church that day."

Quatro clarifies that Burgess has not "joined" his Pentecostal fellowship on the Gold Coast, but was simply "an interested observer" and attended a handful of worship meetings.

It is understood the retired Souths great is now back in Sydney and gearing up for something of a career comeback with the upcoming season of Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, due to begin filming next month.

Contacted for comment, Burgess declined to elaborate on his relationship with Quatro, saying only: "He's a great guy."

Originally published as Muscle-bound missionary Sam's unlikely saviour



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