'I swear on my kids' lives': Burgess cops nine weeks for eye-gouging

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josie andrews
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'I swear on my kids' lives': Burgess cops nine weeks for eye-gouging

Post by josie andrews » Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:09 pm

George Burgess might have played his last game with South Sydney – and possibly in the NRL – after the prop was suspended for nine matches despite sensationally swearing "on my kids' lives" he did not deliberately poke Robbie Farah in the eye.

Burgess was charged last Thursday night for eye-gouging the Wests Tigers' favourite.

And while Burgess refused to accept that he deliberately tried to hurt Farah and said he had no idea his fingers were in his rival's eye, the NRL judiciary panel of Bob Lindner, Mal Cochrane and Dallas Johnson took 25 minutes to hand down the penalty. It was the longest ban in the NRL since Parramatta's Junior Paulo was given nine matches in 2015 for a dangerous throw.

Burgess will need to rely on Souths making the NRL finals to be any chance of a miracle return.

Souths general manager of football Shane Richardson said after the hearing at League HQ: "It's a tragedy for George and his family this whole situation has come up. George is a loving father, brother and son. At South Sydney he's been nothing but an ornament to the club the whole way through and this should never define what George Burgess is about in any way, shape or form. He's nothing but a quality human being."
I swear on my kids' lives I didn't know I had my hand in his eyes.
George Burgess
NRL counsel Peter McGrath suggested Burgess had not learned his lesson from last November when he was suspended for four matches for eye-gouging Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in a Test match and his actions last Thursday night were "deliberate".

McGrath pushed for "eight to ten matches" while Burgess' lawyer, James McLeod, felt "five to six games" was appropriate.

Burgess claimed he was "shocked", "remorseful" and "upset" and also realised "my career is in the balance".

"Things are going a million miles an hour . . . I swear on my kids' lives I didn't know I had my hand in his eyes," he said.

McGrath showed little sympathy and told the panel: "It's telling it [eye-gouging] is not prevalent because there are only two other incidents before you for comparison, and it's even more telling one of those incidents involves the same player."

"This contact was deliberate and repeated in the calendar year," McGrath said.

"We're not dealing with a trivial or technical offence, but an offence of the utmost seriousness."

Burgess, 27, accepted responsibility for placing his hands on Farah's face but continually denied any knowledge his finger was in Farah's eye. He said he was trying to slow down the play and was on "auto pilot".

When McGrath put to Burgess he tried to push his finger further into Farah's eye, Burgess calmly said: "I'm not sure that's the thing to do in front of the referee. I'm not someone who tries to hurt somebody's eyes."

Pressed on how he had been feeling, especially with the intense media interest and commentary on the gouging, Burgess said: "I've been upset, my career is probably in the balance . . . what I have done looks pretty disgraceful on the footage.

"I apologised on the field, I went up to him after the game and promised him it wasn't intentional. He shook my hand and accepted the apology.

"I accept responsibility my hand was near his head and eyes, but I won't accept I deliberately went out to poke him in the eye, I can't accept that. That's not the person I am."

Burgess has no deal with Souths beyond this season and was forced to pass on a three-year $2 million offer from Parramatta at the start of the season because Souths coach Wayne Bennett would not grant him an early release.

Bennett was a noticeable absentee from Tuesday night's hearing as top-ranking club officials Mark Ellison and Richardson joined Burgess.

The Eels remain interested, while Super League clubs back home in England are also keen on Burgess.

Burgess has had the added stress of the pending birth of his third child, who could arrive any day.

Farah said after last Thursday's game: "I felt it and it was sufficient enough to get a reaction out of me," Farah said. "My eye is pretty sore. I don't know why he did it or what he was thinking but he apologised to me and there are no hard feelings."

https://www.watoday.com.au/sport/nrl/ge ... 523h2.html
Anyone can support a team when it is winning, that takes no courage.
But to stand behind a team, to defend a team when it is down and really needs you,
that takes a lot of courage.

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