South Sydney captain Sam Burgess has called for a discussion between NRL management and senior players about the judiciary system and insists he doesn't intend to change his ways when he returns from suspension in Friday night's semi-final against Manly at ANZ Stadium.
A clearly frustrated Burgess was reluctant to discuss the one-match ban resulting from his hair-pulling charge that forced him to watch last Friday night's 30-6 loss to Sydney Roosters from the sideline but admitted he was struggling to bite his tongue.
"Maybe you should ask the game questions about what we all like seeing," said Burgess, who also declared that Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves should not have to miss a finals match for tripping. "You are asking me if I want it to change, maybe you need to ask if the game wants to change.
"Everyone seems to be in uproar about this judiciary system. Who is making the calls? Is there a discussion before these calls go out there? Regardless of what I think, [the NRL] have got to make a call. It is everyone's game, the fan's game. Everyone is missing ouut."
The suspensions of Burgess and Waerea-Hargreaves have sparked calls for the NRL to hit players guilty of repeated minor offences with increasing fines rather than bans from playing.
Under the AFL disciplinary code, players face fines of $3,000 for their first low-range offence to $8,000 for a third infringement, whereas NRL players are only entitled to two fines before a suspension is imposed.
Burgess and Waerea-Hargreaves have both exceeded the NRL's limit of two fineable offences but the English forward suggested heavier fines were preferable to star players missing finals matches.
"Players will pay whatever," Burgess said. "Give it to charity, put it into grassroots, do something. It is better than senior players missing big games that we have played nine months for.
"I guess the people who lead the game should speak to some of the senior players in the game about it. Instead of talking through the media about it, let's talk like men together in a room. I think there needs to be more of an avenue.
"We are in the grips of a finals series and yet we are not talking about the game here. What are we doing? Are we selling the game? Are we killing the game? I want to sell the game yet we are talking about all the controversy. Will that sell tickets?"
Asked if he would change his playing style after three contrary conduct charges this season, Burgess said: "No. That's me, that's been my career. I am not going to change that. I play the way I play and if that is not good enough for the rules I will live with that."
The dual international said the only way for him to air his views was through the media but admitted he was "holding back" from saying how he really felt.
"I'd probably rather talk behind closed doors because it has more of an effect," Burgess said. "I am probably feeling what you are feeling. Does everyone else not feel that some of this stuff is getting a bit like everyone is trial by media, everything is social media, we are just getting very reactive?
"We are a multi-million dollar game and we are ruling out players from big games over things where you could just fine the player. Was it bad? Did anyone get injured? Was anyone hurt? Was it silly? Is it part of the game? Was it in the contest? Yeah. All right, that's a fine."
With the Rabbitohs' season on the line against Manly, Burgess said he would put the issue behind him to focus on Friday night's match and didn't want to discuss it publicly again before the end of the season.
"I am over it," he said. "We have all got to move on at some point in life. Today I will answer your questions and then I am moving on. The game has gone, the decision's gone, I am free to play but at some point there has to be a better protocol in place."
Asked about Waerea-Hargreaves being forced to front the judiciary for tripping James Roberts, Burgess said: "I like the way he plays. I think everyone loves the way he plays. He shouldn't miss a game for that."
Burgess is also a fan of Sea Eagles prop Addin Fonua-Blake, who personally targeted Cronulla captain Paul Gallen in last Saturday night's 28-16 elimination final win and is expected to do the same to the Souths second-rower.
"I thought last week Manly did the simple things well, they carried the ball with intent and Fonua-Blake led the team and they managed to get on the back of that and get the result," Burgess said.
"He leads from the front and is a pretty aggressive player. He is very passionate and he is leading their forward pack at the moment, him and Jake [Trbojevic].
"Probably no one gave them a chance pre-game with their injuries but it just shows that doesn't matter too much at this time of the year. You put your best foot forward and complete high, run hard, tackle hard and you give yourself a chance."
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