Sam Burgess has denied allegations of domestic abuse and drug misuse that were made against the former England superstar in two separate articles in The Australian newspaper on Friday and Saturday.
The NRL, NSW Police and South Sydney Rabbitohs have all opened investigations after the allegations of serious misconduct were made against the former England star, which include allegations of violence against his estranged wife Phoebe, altercations with her father and illicit drug taking, while there are allegations against the South Sydney club doctor and the club, with is owned by film actor Russell Crowe, is also accused of trying to cover up the allegations.
The allegations have been denied by Burgess’ lawyer and Burgess has stepped down from his duties with Fox Sports and the Rabbitohs while he attempts to clear his name.
“The allegations are false and constitute an indefensible defamation against my client,” said Burgess’ lawyer Mark O’Brien.
In a club statement, South Sydney said: “There is no place in our society for violence, harassment or abuse against women.
“If anyone is found guilty of allegations of this nature, the club will take the strongest possible action.
“The club takes issues of drug use very seriously and has well-established policies and procedures in place around the use of performance-enhancing or illicit/recreational/prescription drugs.”
An NRL Champion, Burgess famously guided the Rabbitohs to glory in 2014 after fracturing his cheekbone in the first tackle of the game.
He has been heralded as a hero for both his club and country for years, before a shoulder injury forced him into retirement last year.
He broke up with Phoebe in December 2018, and their divorce was finalised in April.
Speaking on Friday, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo stressed that no action would be taken against Burgess or the South Sydney club on allegations alone which came out just two days before South Sydney’s play-off game against Newcastle Knights. The Rabbitohs shrugged off the impact of the story, thumping the Knights 46-20 and they will now face Parramatta on Saturday.
“(The timing is) obviously disappointing. We’ve worked so hard this season to get to where we are and we want the focus to be on the football, however, these are really serious matters and serious allegations,” Abdo said
“We will put all our resources into getting to the bottom of what occurred.”
And Abdo said the NRL would take as long as needed to get to the truth.
“This is new information to us. We will act on it, we will investigate and take the appropriate action
“We have a track record of doing this and we will continue to do it.
“It’s important that people feel safe and it’s important that we take our responsibility in society very seriously.
“However, we need to let the course of justice flow and make sure that any allegations are tested before we decide what actions are appropriate.”
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