NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has confirmed that Sam Burgess has stood down from his South Sydney and Fox Sports duties following explosive allegations that the Rabbitohs club covered up substance abuse and violence surrounding the retired forward.
The NRL and the Rabbitohs have been rocked by serious allegations levelled at Burgess on the eve of the finals series.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said the explosive allegations of a Rabbitohs club cover-up of substance abuse, violence and harassment to protect Burgess, first published by The Australian, were “pretty serious”.
The allegations have been vehemently denied by Burgess’s lawyer.
The Rabbitohs are also accused of using fake identities to hide results for drug tests for illegal substances.
Abdo said the NRL will investigate the matter to determine the facts before handing down any potential penalties.
In the meantime, Burgess has removed himself from his rugby league roles as an assistant coach at Souths and an analyst at Fox until the NRL’s investigation is complete.
“I believe Sam has stood himself down from South Sydney Rabbitohs duties this weekend and I also believe that he has stood down from Fox Sports as well,” Abdo said.
“The allegations that were made and what was written in the Australian is new information to the NRL.
“We will conduct a thorough investigation and if information has been withheld by bodies, we will take the appropriate action.
“I don’t want to prejudge that because we have to look at the facts, what happened and the implications of those involved before we decide on what course of action we take.
“But these allegations are serious, and they have been made against both the club and the player involved.
“We will take as long as needed to get to the answers we need.”
South Sydney Rabbitohs ex-player Sam Burgess is facing serious allegations of drug abuse and violence. Photographer: Adam YipSource:News Corp Australia
Asked if South Sydney medical officer Andrew McDonald was also standing down after it was alleged by The Australian he wrote a prescription in another person’s name, on behalf of Burgess, Abdo said: “I haven’t spoken to the club specifically about what action they are planning to take with the doctor.
“We’re not standing anyone down at this point because they are allegations.”
Abdo believes the allegations against Burgess hurt the game’s reputation, which makes him even more determined to uncover the truth around the damning claims.
He will now leave it in the Integrity Unit’s hands to investigate the matter, including claims that South Sydney covered up the issues surrounding Burgess.
He also confirmed that the NSW Police have launched an investigation.
“Obviously, it is disappointing,” he said.
“We’ve worked so hard to get to where we are, and we really want the focus to be on the football.
“However, these are really serious allegations and we will put all our resources into getting to the bottom of what occurred.
“And rest assured to all our fans and partners, we will act on this information and we will take the appropriate action.
“It is important that people feel safe and it’s also important that we take our responsibility in society very seriously.
“However, we need to make sure that any allegations made are tested before we decide on what sanction is appropriate.”
Abdo expects South Sydney to make comment on the Burgess matter at some point.
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