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George Burgess suspended 9 games for eye gouging

July 2, 2019

SYDNEY (AP) — England international and South Sydney prop George Burgess will miss the rest of the National Rugby League regular season after being suspended for nine games for eye gouging.

A three-man panel took 30 minutes on Tuesday to give its guilty verdict in a hearing that lasted almost two hours. Burgess denied he intentionally gouged former teammate Robbie Farrah in the seventh minute of a 14-9 Rabbitohs’ loss to Wests Tigers last week.

During his defense, Burgess said: “I didn’t realize in the tackle that I had contact with his eye. Things are going a million miles an hour. I swear on my kids’ lives I didn’t know I had my hands in his eyes.”

Burgess has previously been found guilty of an eye gouge playing for England. The panel was shown a video of an incident last November in which Burgess was suspended for four games after he gouged New Zealand fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in a test match.

NRL counsel Peter McGrath wanted Burgess to receive a 10-game ban.

“Burgess hasn’t learned, there is a pattern of deliberate behavior,” McGrath said. “It was deliberate and intentional and there needs to be an appropriate penalty. The game regards this with complete disgust.”

The Rabbitohs have nine regular-season matches remaining. Burgess, who will be off-contract at the end of the year, would be eligible to return only for the playoffs.

Second-placed South Sydney is six points behind leading Melbourne and is likely to make the eight-team playoffs.

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