'Get out there': Sam Burgess clashes with Cam Smith on virus call

Chris Young
Sports Reporter

Former South Sydney star Sam Burgess says the NRL should continue as planned amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Burgess’ opinion puts him at odds with Melbourne Storm great Cameron Smith, who called for the NRL season to be suspended after Sunday’s match against Manly.

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It was later reported Smith’s comments had angered league officials, who believe games should go ahead as the league faces significant financial pressure due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I tend to disagree with Cameron on this one,” Burgess told NRL 360.

“While we can, we keep playing.

“The players have all the protocol around them and the best information. The NRL’s main priority is the welfare and the health of the players and its fans and their families.

“While that’s the case, let’s keep playing. The players want to play.

Former NRL star Sam Burgess says he disagrees with Cameron Smith's call for the NRL to suspend the 2020 season. Pictures: Getty Images

“Give the fans who aren’t able to get out much or get to the game something to spectate.

“As a player, it’s your responsibility to stay as healthy as possible, make some different choices away from the game because essentially it’s the players who are going to get hurt in the long run because it’s going to cost the game.”

Burgess at odds with Cameron Smith’s virus fears

Storm captain Smith had claimed on Sunday evening that his calls to suspend the 2020 season were borne from fears for his family and elderly relatives.

Smith said many of his teammates, as well as Melbourne head coach Craig Bellamy, either were at risk or had relatives who would be at risk were they to come into contact with the virus.

“This thing is bigger than rugby league,” Smith said.

"This affects more than just rugby league and rugby league players ... after finishing these matches on weekends, we go back to our families.

"There are several players in our squad who are going back to their families who have newborn babies.

"Craig (Bellamy) has an elderly mother. My parents are in their 60s. Craig is in his sixties. But listening to medical advice, he is in the risk bracket.”