South Sydney Rabbitohs prop George Burgess will serve a nine-match ban for gouging the eyes of Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah.
The England international has received the longest ban delivered by the NRL judiciary in seven years. James Graham served a 12-match ban for biting Melbourne Storm’s Billy Slater in the 2012 NRL Grand Final while playing for Canterbury Bulldogs.
However, Burgess said he ‘swears on his kids lives’ that he did not intentionally eye gouge former Rabbitohs team-mate Farah.
Burgess said: “I was in autopilot trying to save the try and slow the play the ball down.
“It wasn’t until after I realised I got him in the face. I was shocked really. 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.
“That was the most careless thing about the tackle, I was going in blind with my hands. My eyes were looking out and obscured by player Damien Cook who was in front of me on the tackle.
“I won’t accept that I deliberately went out to poke his eye. I just can’t accept that. It’s not the kind of person I am.”
Burgess will miss matches against the Sea Eagles, Cowboys, Dragons, Sharks, Storm, Bulldogs, Broncos, Warriors, and Roosters in round 25.