Sam Burgess is not a grubby player, insists teammate Roy Asotasi, after the South Sydney star accepted a two-match NRL ban for an alleged “squirrel grip”.
England international Burgess on Tuesday opted to take the early guilty plea on a contrary conduct charge stemming from an incident which left Melbourne centre Will Chambers writhing around the AAMI Stadium turf on Friday night.
There was widespread speculation that Burgess had squeezed Chambers’ testicles while making a tackle after video footage of the incident appeared on social media over the weekend.
Burgess’ loading from four previous judiciary matters means he will miss two blockbuster home games for the second-placed Rabbitohs – against third-placed Manly on Friday night and fifth-placed Canterbury the following weekend.
If Burgess had contested the charge and lost, he would still have missed two matches.
After seeing vision of the tackle, Rabbitohs veteran Asotasi admitted on Tuesday he thought Burgess may have had a case to answer but he was quick to defend his teammate.
“A lot of people out there are saying that Sam’s a grub,” Asotasi said on Tuesday.
“It’s not what Sammy is as a person. He goes out and plays hard and sometimes things happen.”
Asotasi was unaware of the incident until he saw footage after training on Monday.
“I knew something had happened at the time but didn’t really pay attention to it. But then I saw it and thought `He could be in a bit of trouble here’,” he said.
The loss of the 24-year-old is a big blow for the Rabbitohs, who’ve lost three of their last four matches to slip off the top of the ladder.
However they are expected to get star fullback Greg Inglis back from injury this week for his first match since the third State of Origin game.