Hawke's Bay Today

Four-game ban for gouge

South Sydney will have to start NRL season without England test prop George Burgess

- Alicia Newton

South Sydney forward George Burgess will miss the opening three rounds of the 2019 NRL season after being found guilty of an eye gouge on Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

Burgess fronted an internatio­nal disciplina­ry panel yesterday in the UK and pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The panel found the evidence to be too strong and also fined Burgess £500 ($972) for the incident.

Burgess said he accepted the punishment but denied he had intentiona­lly performed an eye gouge, tweeting “I want to make it com- pletely clear to everyone that it was never my intention to ever gauge (sic) anyone.

“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 always set out to be a positive role model for the younger generation and I will continue to do so.

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

Burgess fronted a three-man disciplina­ry hearing after being cited after a tackle on the New Zealand captain in the second test at Anfield on Monday.

Burgess could have missed between three to five games under the judiciary format and the ban will carry over into the start of the 2019 season at South Sydney.

Watene-Zelezniak played down suggestion­s he was eye gouged by Burgess.

Fans on social media were up in the arms over the alleged incident with footage showing Burgess’s fingers around the face region of “I felt a finger go in my eye but that’s football,” Watene-Zelezniak said.

“I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose. He and his brothers are good guys and have done really good things in the game. I don’t think that’s in their kit bag.” — nrl.com

I accept my punishment but I will never accept that I gauged (sic) a fellow player’s eye intentiona­lly. George Burgess

 ??  ?? A video grab from Monday’s test shows George Burgess with his hand near the eyes of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
A video grab from Monday’s test shows George Burgess with his hand near the eyes of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

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