Coach Ewen McKenzie told the 31-year-old former captain at theweekend that NSW would not exercise its option to retain him. Burke's release came as Wallaby back Mat Rogers signed on for afurther three years, joining captain Chris Whitaker and vice-captain PhilWaugh in re-committing to the Waratahs.
The only person with more than 100 appearances for the Waratahs,Burke is expected to use upcoming matches for the Barbarians in Europe toshowcase his talents for northern hemisphere club offers.
The Australian Rugby Union is likely to give him an early releasefrom his contract in recognition of his long service which includes 68 Testsand yielded 851 points.
For his state, Burke made a record contribution of over 1000points in more than a decade and he switched from fullback to centre followingRogers' arrival from rugby league in 2002. Acknowledging that Burke was one of the greats of NSW andAustralian rugby, first-year head coach McKenzie said: "It will be probably thehardest decision I make this year I'd say, very difficult.
"I had to make a decision moving forward and I've got to looka bit longer term, so on that basis we've made a call."
The Canterbury Crusadersmade their sixth Super 12 final on Saturday, inspired to a 27-16 winover the Western Stormers by influential All Blacks halfback Justin Marshallwho was only cleared fit to play on the eve of the match.
The Crusaders, who have won four Super 12 crowns and beenrunner-up once in the nine-year history of the southern hemisphere inter-provincialrugby union championship, fought back from a 6-13 deficit with Marshallplaying a key role in two telling tries.
Two weeks ago Marshall suffered a painful hip injury and theoriginal prognosis said he would be out of rugby for up to six weeks, but hepassed a late fitness test to take his place in the side.
Although the evergreen halfback was silent on whether he was fullyfit, he admitted to being "desperate to be here".
Crusaders skipper Rueben Thorne was in no doubt about Marshall's
The first half was played at a furious pace with both sidesfavouring rolling mauls and when the Stormers snapped the ball out wide, centreDe Wet Barry, punched holes in the Crusaders defence.
After Daniel Carter and Gaffie du Toit had traded two penaltieseach, Barry was rewarded with the first try of the match, which came courtesy ofa sloppy Crusaders lineout.
The Stormers snaffled the ball and hammered the defence forseveral phases before Barry broke through a tackle to score.
Du Toit's conversion and two more Carter penalties had theStormers ahead 13-12 at halftime. As the experienced Crusaders stepped up a notch in the secondhalf, the Stormers began to tire, showing the effects of flying fromChristchurch to South Africa and back again in the past fortnight.
Within two minutes of the restart the Crusaders took the lead witha superb Marshall try that started when he made the initial break inside hisown 22 and was on hand to take the final pass from Marika Vunibaka to score atthe other end of the field.
Carter converted, and three minutes later du Toit slotted anotherpenalty to make it 19-16. Marshall set the scene for the final try of the match with 15minutes remaining when he called his backs into rolling maul, swelling theCrusaders pack to 11 as they drove relentlessly forward, and from a scrum closeto the line Caleb Ralph finished a regulation move to score wide out.
"The first half was all about pressure. They put the hits onus and we managed to come out even, but in the second half we wanted to pile iton them and play down their end of the field," Thorne said. "We really wanted to put in a solid performance and I thinkwe did that."
AFP - 2004.