South Sydney’s George Burgess says he is no eye gouger, describing an incident that earned him a four-match ban as a “misunderstanding”.
Burgess admits he is still upset over missing the first three rounds of the next NRL season after being found guilty of gouging New Zealand’s Dallin Watene-Zelezniak last month in England’s second Test win.
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The incident late in the 20-14 victory was not penalised by referee Gerard Sutton, and Watene-Zelezniak appeared to brush off the clash in post-match interviews.
But Burgess copped the four-match ban — which included the third-Test loss against the Kiwis — and a $900 fine after New Zealand later cited the England forward.
“That’s what I got charged with but anyone who knows me knows I am not an eye gouger,” Burgess said.
“I am disappointed to be tagged an eye gouger.
“It’s not something I would do. It was a misunderstanding but I have to move on and apologise to everyone involved.
“You have to cop it on the chin sometimes and move on.”
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Burgess is looking forward to a reunion with England coach Wayne Bennett at the Rabbitohs next month when the forward returns for pre-season training.
Bennett has taken over the South Sydney reins from Anthony Seibold after a coaching swap saga was finally resolved.
“He left a great impression on all of us at the club,” Burgess said of Seibold, who replaced Bennett as Broncos coach.
“He’s got his own ambitions as well and I am really happy for him.
“He’s following his dreams. I am thankful for what he did for us.
“We will carry those things forward to 2019 with Wayne.”
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