WARRINGTON Wolves players past and present are among those paying tribute to Sam Burgess, who has been forced to retire from rugby league.

The iconic South Sydney Rabbitohs and England forward is hanging up his boots at the age of 30 due to a chronic shoulder problem.

He announced his decision overnight in an emotional post on the Rabbitohs' social media feeds.

Warrington Guardian:

Sam Burgess chases down Vinnie Anderson while playing for Bradford Bulls against The Wire in 2008

Wire co-captain Chris Hill, a former teammate of Burgess's on the international stage at both junior and senior level, added the following tribute.

Departing Wolves stand-off Kevin Brown did the same on Instagram

Warrington Guardian:  

Former Wire players Richie Mathers and Matty Blythe added their own thoughts on Twitter.

But perhaps the most heartfelt tribute of them all came from England teammate and fellow Bradford Bulls academy graduate John Bateman.

Burgess made 88 Super League appearances for the Bulls before joining South Sydney prior to the 2010 season.

In two spells with the Rabbitohs - either side of a brief stint in rugby union with Bath - the versatile forward would play 182 times for the club.

Memorably, he helped them win the 2014 NRL Grand Final by playing for 80 minutes with a fractured cheekbone sustained in the game's very first tackle - an effort that won him the Clive Churchill Medal for the game's man of the match.

To this day, he remains the only non-Australian to have claimed the award.

Internationally, Burgess claimed 23 England caps - leading them to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final - and played twice for Great Britain.