A day after serious allegations were levelled at former South Sydney Rabbitohs star Sam Burgess, more claims have been published regarding the high profile 2018 sexting scandal.
After a four-month investigation into various off-field matters, The Australian newspaper dropped an exclusive report on Thursday night alleging South Sydney officials went to great lengths to prevent the public exposure of the raucous post-season celebrations of the English-born star late in his career.
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It was a publication that has rocked the NRL, with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, NRL CEO and ARLC chairman Peter V’landys making comments stressing the claims would be investigated.
Burgess’ lawyer Mark O’Brien vigorously denied the accusations on Thursday night, which included allegations of violence and substance abuse.
“The allegations are false and constitute an indefensible defamation against my client,” Mr O’Brien told the newspaper. “It is apparent sources of the false allegations are those currently in dispute with my client over various issues.”
Burgess also confirmed he had stood down from his role as development coach with the Rabbitohs, and also from his media duties with Fox Sports, releasing a statement to Fox Sports saying: “I have today stood down from all work commitments.”
On Friday night, The Australian published more allegations relating to the 2018 sexting scandal.
The scandal broke just before the Rabbitohs were set to face the Sydney Roosters in the 2018 preliminary final — a game the Roosters won 12-4 — when a woman alleged she was exposed to inappropriate images in a video chat from one of Burgess’s social media accounts with other Souths players.
The woman emailed the club about the incident and said she felt violated, alleging some of the players exposed themselves to her, but a South Sydney investigation cleared Burgess and his teammates of any wrongdoing.
The Australian report alleges that Burgess had a heated exchange with Roosters player Billy Smith, who reportedly had a connection with the women at the centre of the scandal.
The Weekend Australian cites “Roosters sources” as claiming “Burgess had approached Smith with an expletive-filled tirade in the tunnel after the September 5 game against the Roosters.
It also alleges the ex-Rabbitohs star “sat outside the home of Smith for an hour” as he looked to confront him over the belief he was behind “exposing the sexting scandal”.
At the time, Burgess blasted the hair pulling incident leading to a suspension.
“In the context of the game, there were four or five blokes knocked out, 50 stitches put into people‘s heads after a game,’’ Burgess said. “Then someone sits in front of the computer on Friday and that‘s what they pick up?
“It says it all. I‘m disappointed. Disappointed is the word I’m using today. But I‘ll let everyone else have their opinions.’’
However, the report also revealed days after the sexting scandal broke in 2018, Burgess admitted to his estranged wife that about an affair while he was in Melbourne captaining England during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
The Daily Telegraph released a series of WhatsApp messages between Burgess and a women between October 2017 and May 2018 which included flirty exchanges and details to meet up at Melbourne hotels.
Burgess, who was one of the NRL’s players of the decade between 2010 and 2019, and a 2014 premiership winner and Clive Churchill recipient, has seen increased scrutiny of his private life after he was medically retired following the 2019 NRL season.
Burgess married Phoebe Hooke in December 2015, and the pair welcomed their first daughter together in January 2017. After the birth of their second child in December 2018, the pair separated and reconciled, before separating again in October 2019.
After the split, Burgess was hit with an apprehended violence order after an alleged dispute in Bowral with Phoebe’s father Mitchell Hooke.
His lawyer Bryan Wrench told court in November 2019 they were “false allegations”. The AVO was continued with the case set to be heard in this November.