The Sydney Roosters are reportedly furious that young player Billy Smith has been dragged into the Sam Burgess scandal, calling on the NRL to clear his name.
According to The Australian, who published a series of explosive allegations against Burgess last Friday, the former South Sydney Rabbitohs captain believed Smith knew the woman involved in a sexting scandal with Burgess in 2018.
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Burgess was cleared of any wrongdoing following an investigation by the NRL Integrity Unit at the time, after the woman claimed she had been exposed to inappropriate images in a video chat from a social media account belonging to Burgess.
Smith was also reportedly cleared of any wrongdoing, however Burgess is said to have confronted the Roosters player in the aftermath.
Burgess infamously pulled Smith’s hair during a game in 2019, and reportedly “waited outside his home” in the hope of seeing him.
The Australian claims Burgess “sat outside the home of Smith for an hour”, believing he was responsible for “exposing the sexting scandal”.
The Australian published a text message from Burgess in which he allegedly wrote: “I told him after the game I know he was involved and I will get him when I retire.
“He was a scared little boy. You know I've been to his house before and parked outside for an hour just wishing I would see him.”
On Sunday, Channel Nine’s Danny Weidler reported that the Roosters are furious that Smith has been dragged into the scandal and want the NRL to publicly declare he did no wrong.
Sm Burgess steps down from Souths and Fox Sports
Meanwhile, Burgess has stood down as assistant coach of South Sydney as the NRL and NSW Police launch an investigation into serious misconduct claims.
The NRL has been shocked by allegations published in The Australian on Friday and has instructed its integrity unit to speak to South Sydney officials.
The newspaper report alleged drug use and domestic violence by the former Rabbitohs captain, behaviour which was then alleged to have been covered up by the famous NRL club.
Burgess, an integral part of Souths’ NRL premiership success in 2014, denies the allegations.
His lawyer told The Australian: “The allegations are false and constitute indefensible defamation against my client.”
South Sydney will co-operate with the investigation and in a statement said they are treating the allegations with the utmost seriousness.
“There is no place in our society for violence, harassment or abuse against women,” the statement read.
“If anyone is found guilty of allegations of this nature, the club will take the strongest possible action.
“The club takes issues of drug use very seriously and has well-established policies and procedures in place around the use of performance enhancing or illicit/recreational/prescription drugs.”
The 31-year-old Burgess has also stood down from his role with Fox Sports as a rugby league analyst, confirming so in a one-line statement.
“I have today stood down from all work commitments,” Burgess said.
Speaking on Friday, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo stressed the seriousness of the allegations but said no action will be taken on Burgess or the South Sydney club on allegations alone.
“(The timing is) obviously disappointing. We've worked so hard this season to get to where we are and we want the focus to be on the football, however, these are really serious matters and serious allegations,” Abdo said hours before the NRL’s finals series kicked off in Sydney.
“We will put all our resources into getting to the bottom of what occurred.”
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