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CEO Andrew Abdo on Friday said the NRL would take "strong action" if serious allegations of domestic violence and drug use against former South Sydney captain Sam Burgess are proven in separate police and Integrity Unit investigations.

Abdo has instructed the NRL Integrity Unit to launch a "comprehensive investigation" into claims made against Burgess.

The former English international has stood down from assistant coaching duties at the Rabbitohs, who face Newcastle in an elimination final at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, and his TV commentary duties with broadcaster Fox Sports.

He was quoted in a Fox Sports report on Friday as saying: "I have today stood down from all work commitments."

Souths issued a statement on Friday afternoon to say the club was treating the allegations reported in The Australian newspaper with the utmost seriousness.

Abdo stressed the NRL was only made aware of the allegations – relating to a 2018 period during Burgess's playing career – when they were published by The Australian on Thursday night.

"The allegations that were made and what was written in The Australian today was new information to the NRL," Abdo said.

"We will conduct a thorough investigation and if information has been withheld by bodies, we will take the appropriate action.

"We have to look at the facts, we have to look at what happened and we have to look at the implications of those involved before we decide on what course of action we take.

"These allegations are serious against both the club and the player involved.

"We're not going to take action on allegations however I believe that Sam Burgess has stood himself down from South Sydney Rabbitohs duties this weekend and Fox Sports as well."

In the Rabbitohs' statement, the club said it welcomed the NRL Integrity Unit's investigation in relation to these allegations and would fully cooperate with the investigation. They also stated they were supportive of Burgess's decision to step down from his role at the club while the NRL Integrity Unit completed its investigation.

"There is no place in our society for violence, harassment or abuse against women. 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 club will continue to work closely with ASADA and the NRL which administer testing of the players. 

"The club will also continue to work with the playing group to support their wellbeing and educate them about drug use."

NSW Police confirmed an investigation was under way into the allegations against Burgess.

"Officers from the Hume Police District received a report outlining various allegations relating to the conduct of a 31-year-old man," a police statement said.

"Police have commenced inquiries and as these inquiries are in their infancy, no further comment will be provided at this time."

Abdo said the NRL Integrity Unit had been instructed to ascertain whether information had been kept from the NRL by South Sydney.

"I don't know who knew what, and when," he said.

"That's what we have to uncover. I'm not going to prejudge that and I'm not going to make comment on it because I genuinely don't know who knows what.

"That's the job of our Integrity Unit in whom we place a lot of trust. We know that in co-operation of police we will get to the bottom of it and we will get to the facts. But at this point I honestly don't know who knew what."

On Friday, The Australian reported a series of pharmaceutical records, witness accounts, statements to police and correspondence by email and text alleging Burgess's behaviour during his playing days.

Burgess has been a member of the Rabbitohs coaching staff since earlier this year and he re-entered their COVID-19 bubble to continue that role in a hands-on capacity a few months ago.

He was medically retired at the end of 2019 due to a chronic shoulder injury, having previously signed a lucrative South Sydney playing contract that tied him to the club until the end of 2023.

Burgess was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal after playing the 2014 grand final – the Rabbitohs' first title in 43 years – with a fractured cheekbone suffered in the first tackle of the match.


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