Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett is adamant his team hasn't been affected by allegations involving ex-captain Sam Burgess ahead of Sunday's elimination final against Newcastle.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said on Friday the governing body would take "strong action" if the serious allegations of domestic violence and drug use against Burgess are proven in separate police and Integrity Unit investigations.
Abdo has instructed the NRL Integrity Unit to launch a "comprehensive investigation" into the claims. He 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 newspaper on Thursday night.
Bennett was not at the club when the incidents allegedly occurred.
Burgess, a former English international, has stood down from assistant coaching duties at South Sydney and his TV commentary role with broadcaster Fox Sports.
"It has no impact on the team whatsoever. Sam's not part of the team in the sense that he's not playing, he's not required to play," Bennett said on Saturday.
"We've come this far without him. Obviously he's retired. And so you can make it out as big a headline as you like, you can blow it up as much as you like, but I'm going to tell you now it's not going to have an impact on the playing group here.
"It's distant from us, it's got nothing to do with us. It's not something that's happened at the time I was here."
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Bennett, who reiterated he would reserve his judgements until investigations are complete, said Burgess's coaching role "wasn't that big" and his absence wouldn't be a distraction.
"He came in halfway through the season, he hasn't been with us all season," he said.
"He came in about two or three months ago. Initially when we went into the bubble, he wasn't with us even then. Sam's an important part around us … [But] the bottom line is it's not a big impact on us."
Bennett strongly denied the allegations were widely known at the club before The Australian's report.
"I've been here since the end of '18 and I knew nothing about it until I've been told in the last 24 hours," he said.
"I've never had a player or any staff member talk to me about it in any shape, form or manner."
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The master coach said he'd spoken to Burgess recently but didn't divulge details.
"I'm not going to discuss my relationship with Sam. We know where we stand with each other," he said.