Burgess looked happy and relaxed in dark sunglasses and a sleeveless muscle T-shirt as he walked to a Hyundai hatchback registered to Metro Church after getting coffee at a Nobby’s Beach cafe.
The 32-year-old has been spending time training with friend and spiritual adviser, Rob Quatro, who has introduced him to the Pentecostal faith, although at this stage Burgess is just an interested observer.
Quatro is a well-known fitness trainer who has won international titles in bodybuilding and powerlifting, as well as being a pastor with the church.
The former Rabbitohs star escaped Sydney to Queensland shortly after he was cleared on appeal of intimidating his former father-in-law Mitch Hooke.
The former NRL enforcer grabbed a coffee from a Nobby’s Beach cafe on the Gold Coast
Burgess was in the company of Rob Quatro, a friend and pastor at Gold’s Coast’s Metro Church
That court decision came after 18 months of upheaval in his life during which Burgess separated from wife, Phoebe, and was forced to retire from the NRL due to a chronic shoulder injury in October 2019.
The 32-year-old will face another court in May after allegedly being detected driving with cocaine in his system while on his way to pick up his children from Bowral on February 22.
He was allegedly unlicensed while behind the wheel of his BMW X5 which was unregistered due to his failure to pay $1,200 in parking and traffic fines.
Burgess has told friends he is on the Gold Coast to ‘get out of the hustle and bustle’ of Sydney as he tries to ‘better himself with a few things’ and make changes in his life.
He attended a service at the church last Sunday but is said to be more interested in his personal development than permanently joining an organised religion.
Rob Quatro has won international titles in bodybuilding and powerlifting
Quatro (right), pictured with Gold Coast singer Stan Walker, is also a Pentecostal pastor
Quatro on stage at Metro Church, Gold Coast, where he is a regular speaker at services
Quatro has his own redemption story, having lost his father when he was 15 and descended into heavy drinking and drug abuse as his life spiralled out of control.
A friend introduced him to bodybuilding aged 17 and he turned his life around.
Burgess met Quatro, a sometime boxer, through sporting circles and they have become good friends. He has been working out with Quatro and seeking spiritual counsel.
The dual code international was not known to be religious in the past but has taken his grandmother to Sunday church services at Coogee in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
Daily Mail Australia revealed Burgess’s connection to the Metro Church, based at Varsity Lakes, after a member of the congregation posted an Instagram snap of himself with the 2014 grand final hero.
Burgess looked happy and relaxed after escaping the hustle and bustle of Sydney
Burgess’ Gold Coast trip followed 18 months of upheaval and drama in his life
The Metro Church has been approached for comment on its relationship with Burgess.
Its senior pastors, Dave and Jenny Gilpin, originally established the Hope City Church in South Yorkshire in 1991 in response to Liverpool Football Club’s Hillsborough disaster.
The Burgess clan hails from Dewsbury, in South Yorkshire, but there is no family link.
Daily Mail Australia can reveal the Gilpins were involved in a racism row in England in 2020, which forced them to resign from the Hope City Church they’d founded.
An internal report by Hope City Church found it was managed in a way so that it would not appear ‘too black’.
The controversy erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death while being arrested in Minneapolis and the Black Lives Matter protests in the US during 2020.
Dave and Jenny Gilpin returned to Australia in 2020 after a racism controversy in the UK
Burgess attended a Metro Church service on the Gold Coast during his escape from Sydney
The report noted ‘a number of notable instances where people of colour had felt intentionally discriminated against on the basis of race’, including being excluded from senior positions in the church.
Mr Gilpin later responded on the church’s Youtube channel, saying: ‘I’ve always had a vision of creating a diverse, multicultural church.’
‘Because we were getting fewer white people attending in Sheffield, I tried to make the church more appealing to what white people wanted. I realise in the past week that this is completely racist.
‘That I have contributed and added to generations and centuries of racism over the earth, and I have hurt many people in the past and the present, I am deeply sorry.’
‘I want to learn, I want to listen, I want to work with people around me to make things better.’
Shortly after resigning the Gilpins returned to Australia and were appointed senior pastors at the Metro Church, which had been founded on the Gold Coast in 2006 by Garry and Kasey McDonald.
As the church’s website describes the move: ‘Fresh Air Fresh Start Fresh Future.’
‘It wasn’t that long ago that we felt our hearts stirred from the other side of the earth (the UK) to move to the Gold Coast,’ the Gilpins write on the site.