Rabbitohs back under-siege ‘spiritual leader’ Burgess
THE South Sydney Rabbitohs are standing by firebrand skipper Sam Burgess despite suggestions he should be stripped of the captaincy for his 16th foul play indiscretion.
Burgess accepted a one-week ban on Saturday for pulling the hair of Roosters rookie Billy Smith in an incident rumoured to involve an off-field disagreement between the pair last year.
The Rabbitohs chose an early plea when a new camera angle emerged that was not seen on the broadcast during their victory over the Roosters and which clearly indicated the force of his actions.
Rabbitohs general manager Shane Richardson insists the club remains fully supportive of Burgess despite yet another act of ill-discipline that will cost him a start in the opening week of the finals.
Richardson said Burgess's captaincy was not under threat "because he's the true leader of our club".
"The players love him as a bloke and love playing with him. Sometimes great leaders can have their challenges. The team is right behind him because he's the heart and soul of the club," Richardson said.
Burgess has become a serial offender with 16 foul play indiscretions during his career.
The one year he was not charged, 2014, the Rabbitohs won the title.
"Sam has his moments," Richardson said. "Even when Greg (Inglis) was captain, Sam was spiritually there. He's the face of our joint.
"You don't realise from outside just how much he has given to us over the years. The good far outweighs the bad."
Burgess's ill-discipline has been a huge frustration for veteran coach Wayne Bennett.
As his England coach in 2016, Bennett said: "Sam gives away far too many penalties. He does that at South Sydney as well so he needs to change his behaviour."
And then again two weeks ago: "Of course his aggression is important, I want him to play with aggression. I want them all to play with aggression but there are rules."
Bennett has coached many firebrands over the years but the English forward is probably the only player he hasn't been able to properly control.
The concern is Burgess could cost the Rabbitohs a finals game.
The top four teams are so evenly matched that one act of foul play could mean the difference.
Despite the enormous rivalry, Roosters skipper Boyd Cordner supported Burgess after the game.
"I don't think Sam should miss a week for pulling hair," Cordner said. "It's part of the rules and you can't do it but my reaction when I first heard about it was I've seen a lot worse."
LISTEN! Matty Johns and Paul Kent are joined by Balmain champion Steve 'Blocker' Roach, talking up the big eighth place battle at Leichhardt Oval Sunday, look at some of Manly's best ever hit men and the time Kenty got completely jammed by Mark Geyer.
Stream the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership on KAYO SPORTS. Every game of every round Live & On-Demand on your TV, computer, mobile or tablet. Get your 14 day free trial >