NRL: Burgess defends character after gouge ban

Dallin Watene Zelezniak brushed off the eye-gouge incident post-match

Tom Burgess of the Rabbitohs watches on during the NRL Semi Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.

The England prop's punishment comes after he ploughed his fingers inside the eye socket of Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak during their second test at Liverpool.

While referee Gerard Sutton didn't hand Burgess a punishment at the time, New Zealand later cited the incident and the Rugby Football League referred the 26-year-old to a disciplinary hearing.

The 26-year-old forward was found guilty of behaviour contrary to the true spirit of the game by an worldwide disciplinary panel following the incident which occurred during England's win over the Kiwis in the second test in Liverpool on Monday.

Burgess, who was represented at the hearing by England team manager Jamie Peacock, will miss Sunday's third Test against the Kiwis and the start of the NRL season. "It is not in my makeup as a rugby league player and never has been", Burgess said on Twitter after his suspension was made public. "I have too much respect for the players I play against and with".

Burgess pleaded not guilty at an global disciplinary panel on Tuesday after being charged by the Rugby Football League.


Despite Watene-Zelezniak dismissing suggestions Burgess had gouged him during the match at Anfield, Burgess was still summoned before a disciplinary panel.

"I'm sure he didn't do it on objective", New Zealand captain Watene-Zelezniak said.

"That's worldwide football. I'm a tough boy, I'm an adult, I'm a man so I can take those kinds of things but what I can't take is a loss".

"I'm sure he didn't do it on goal". I don't think that's in their kit bag. The doctor gave me some kind of eye drops.

England have already won the series 2-0 having also beaten the Kiwis in Hull.

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