Tom Burgess cops big ban as 'baffling' drama leaves NRL fans seething

South Sydney's veteran prop could be rubbed out for the rest of the season after the incident against the Sharks.

Seen here, Rabbitohs forward Tom Burgess hits a Cronulla player in a high tackle.
Rabbitohs forward Tom Burgess copped a three-game ban after being hit with a grade-two careless high tackle charge. Pic: Getty/Fox League

Veteran South Sydney forward Tom Burgess looks set to miss the rest of the NRL regular season after copping a hefty ban over a high tackle that left viewers fuming on Saturday night. Burgess received a three-match ban for a high tackle on Cronulla's Tom Hazelton that saw the prop become the latest man to fall foul of the officials in a chaotic round 23.

Roosters enforcer Nathan Brown and Gold Coast prop Mo Fotuaiaka were both sent off for shoulder contact to the head of a defender in their matches, while Penrith Jarome Luai wasn't even penalised in Friday night's showdown with Melbourne, despite being fined for a similar shot on Storm big man Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

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Both Brown and Fotuaiaka were slapped with one-game bans for their respective high shots, despite receiving straight send-offs. Meanwhile, Burgess only went to the sin bin for 10 minutes but is set to miss his side's final three matches of the season. If he unsuccessfully challenges the charge, the Englishman will be looking at a four-week ban.

Hazelton left the field for a head injury assessment (HIA) and did not return after Burgess' shoulder appeared to make contact with his head in the final five minutes of Cronulla's 26-16 win. Referee Todd Smith gave Burgess an early shower after ruling there was shoulder contact to the head, but league great's Cooper Cronk and Mal Meninga argued the contact was minimal.

“I think the Burgess incident was a bit harsh,” Meninga said on Fox League. “What is wrong with being aggressive? What is wrong with getting off the line and getting in with intent? I’m not quite sure.”

Cooper Cronk didn't think it warranted a suspended for Burgess after agreeing that it looked soft. “It is on the lower side (of the scale),” he said. "He has flown out of the line and it looks like bodies clash. Does Hazleton get direct contact to the chin? I am going to say no. Is there contact? There might be slight. If there is anything to deal with it is going to be minimal I think.”

However, Burgess copped the same grade-two careless high tackle charge that Brown and Foutaika received for their send-offs, which resulted in one-week bans for the pair. The reason Burgess' ban is longer is because he has been charged three previous times for a careless high tackle, since round 20 last year.

Pictured here, Souths prop Tom Burgess in action against the Sharks in round 23 of the NRL.
Souths prop Tom Burgess is seen here in action against the Sharks in round 23 of the NRL. Pic: Getty

It means the English prop will be unavailable until the finals - provided the eighth-placed Rabbitohs make it - if he takes an early guilty plea. The Rabbitohs have a bye in round 26, with their three remaining regular season games against the Dragons, Knights and Roosters.

If he unsuccessfully challenges his charge at the judiciary, Burgess could miss the first week of the finals. The big man's absence will be a massive blow for the Bunnies, with Saturday night's sin-binning earning the ire of rugby league fans.

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Viewers slammed the inconsistencies that saw two players sent off, one avoid a penalty altogether and another marched for 10 minutes in tackles that appeared very similar to one another. The Burgess incident sparked a wave of backlash on social media, with viewers describing the officiating in the game as "baffling" and "embarrassing".

with AAP

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