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Burgess to miss start of NRL season after eye-gouging suspension

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6th November, 2018
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England forward George Burgess has been given a four-match ban after being found guilty of eye-gouging.

George Burgess has defended his character after being handed a four-match ban that rules him out of South Sydney’s opening three matches of the 2019 NRL season.

The England forward was found guilty of an eye gouge on Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in their Test win over New Zealand in Liverpool at the weekend.

Burgess will miss miss Sunday’s third Test against the Kiwis before serving his NRL ban.

Burgess took to social media to defend himself.

“I want to make it completely clear to everyone that it was never my intention to ever gauge (sic) anyone,” said on Twitter after the hearing.

“It is not in my makeup as a rugby league player and never has been. I sincerely apologise to anyone who thinks bad of me after seeing the footage.

“I accept my punishment but I will never accept that I gauged (sic) a fellow players eye intentionally. I have too much respect for the players I play against and with.”

The incident, which occurred 20 minutes from the end of England’s 20-14 victory, went unpunished by referee Gerard Sutton and Watene-Zelezniak brushed off the clash in his post-match interviews.

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However, the Rugby Football League announced on Monday that New Zealand cited the incident and Burgess was referred to a disciplinary hearing.

The Rabbitoh was also fined 500 pounds, but has the option to appeal.

Kiwis and Penrith full-back Watene-Zelezniak had to have treatment for the injury, shortly after coming into contact on the ground with Burgess.

The suspension is a major blow for Souths, who face defending premiers, the Sydney Roosters, in the opening round before a clash with the traditionally fast-starting St George Illawarra at Kogarah.

The Rabbitohs are already facing an uncertain start to their pre-season with speculation continuing to mount that Anthony Seibold and Wayne Bennett’s coaching swap will come within weeks.

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