Sam Burgess is under investigation from the NRL after serious allegations were made against him and the South Sydney team by estranged wife Phoebe, The Australian have reported.
It’s claimed the Rabbitohs covered up misconduct relating to drug abuse and domestic violence involving Burgess throughout his playing career.
The former England captain retired last year due to a chronic shoulder problem but remains heavily involved at South Sydney, both within the playing group and the recruitment team.
However, following the claims by Pheobe and her father, Burgess has stood down from the Rabbitohs and his punditry role at Fox League, with the NRL integrity unit set to carry out a comprehensive investigation.
“These allegations are very serious and I’ve instructed the Integrity Unit to investigate the claims as a priority,” NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said in a statement.
“We will also seek the advice of police and other relevant authorities throughout this process.”
Following the reports, South Sydney Rabbitohs released the following statement: “The allegations in today’s The Australian newspaper are very concerning and the Club is treating them with the utmost seriousness.
“There is no place in our society for violence, harassment or abuse against women. If anyone is found guilty of allegations of this nature, the Club will take the strongest possible action.
“The Rabbitohs welcome the NRL Integrity Unit’s investigation in relation to these allegations and will fully cooperate with the investigation.
“The Club is supportive of Sam Burgess’s decision to step down from his role at the Club while the NRL Integrity Unit investigation is underway.”
Burgess confirmed in a short statement on Fox League: “I have today stood down from all work commitments.”
Mark O’Brien, Burgess’ lawyer, has strongly denied all the allegations made against his client.
“The allegations are false and constitute an indefensible defamation against my client,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It is apparent sources of the false allegations are those currently in dispute with my client over various issues.”
Meanwhile, ARLC chairman Peter V’landys responded on Friday morning stating that Burgess should be given a fair judgement while all the facts are gathered.
“We’ll investigate them (the claims), no doubt about that,’’ V’landys told 2GB on Friday.
“But I stress, all parties including the South Sydney club, Sam Burgess deserve due process and natural justice.
“Once we have all the information we’ll make the appropriate decisions.
“It would be totally inappropriate for me to comment on this particular case, I don’t have sufficient facts.
“And like anyone else in the community you have to provide due process and natural justice and Sam should be afforded that.”