Wayne Bennett has today confirmed that George Burgess will leave the club at the end of the season.
The 27-year-old was banned for nine matches last week after he was found guilty of eye-gouging Robbie Farah – effectively ending his season and Rabbitohs’ career.
Speaking ahead of Souths game against Manly, Bennett said: “George won’t be here next year, that was determined a long time ago and way before anything else happened.
“But I do want him to stay in the NRL, he is a wonderful player and a good bloke.
“He’s got a lot to offer but we’ve got salary cap restrictions, that’s our point and we just can’t go to that figure.”
Ahead of this season, Burgess “decided to go with the heart rather than the head” in knocking back a lucrative three-year offer from Parramatta to stay at South Sydney.
The England forward backed himself to earn a new Bunnies deal beyond this year but injures and suspensions have marred his 2019 campaign.
He now finds himself on the market and despite reported interest from the Eels again, there is no guarantee of an NRL offer.
This would leave George with no option but to return to England and with several of their forwards off-contract, Warrington has emerged as a potential destination.
Despite already having two marquee players in Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop for 2020, the Wolves are best placed financially to make a move for Burgess.
It remains to be seen whether it is just pure speculation, but a return to England is now a real possibility for a player who was labelled the best prop in world not so long ago.