The newspaper The Australian published an investigation into Burgess on Friday, alleging the 31-year-old had engaged in drug use, domestic violence and incidents of sexual harassment. The report also says South Sydney covered up the alleged incidents to protect Burgess.
Burgess’ lawyer Mark O’Brien did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment, but in a statement to The Australian said: “The allegations are false and constitute an indefensible defamation against my client.
“It is apparent sources of the false allegations are those currently in dispute with my client over various issues.”
“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 Rabbitohs welcome the NRL Integrity Unit’s investigation in relation to these allegations and will fully cooperate with the investigation.”
CNN reached out to South Sydney for additional comment but did not immediately receive a response.
A former international for Great Britain and England in both rugby league and union, Burgess retired due to a shoulder injury in 2019 and has since been working as an assistant coach for the Rabbitohs.
New South Wales police did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Burgess has also stepped down from his guest commentary position with Fox League.
“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.”
Burgess started his rugby league career with English side Bradford Bulls before joining the Rabbitohs, a club co-owned by Hollywood actor Russell Crowe, in 2010. Burgess helped South Sydney win its first NRL title in 43 years in 2014.
He briefly switched codes to union, representing England at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but returned to Sydney for the final three years of his playing career.