Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett has strongly denied the allegations made against Sam Burgess were widely known at the club.
Burgess has stepped down from his role with the Rabbitohs as he fights to clear his name after being hit with accusations of violence and drug use following an investigation by The Australian.
Bennett has had a long-term relationship with Burgess through his roles as coach of England and South Sydney and denied any cover up on the club’s part.
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“I’ve been here since the end of 2018 and I knew nothing about it until I’ve been told in the last 24 hours,” Bennett told reported on Saturday.
“I’ve never had a player or any staff member talk to me about it in any shape, form or manner.
“I’m not going to discuss my relationship with Sam. We know where we stand with each other.”
The bombshell report from The Australian newspaper has the potential to rock the Rabbitohs’ hunt for the 2020 premiership title.
However ahead of his side’s elimination final against the Knights on Sunday, Bennett believes his team won’t be affected by the outside noise surrounding Burgess.
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“It has no impact on the team whatsoever,” Bennett said.
“Sam’s not part of the team in the sense that he’s not playing, he’s not required to play.
“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.
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“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.”
Bennett believes that neither the club or the NRL will comment on the allegations made against Burgess until natural justice takes its course.
However while admitting Burgess is a big part of the club, Bennett does not think his absence will hurt his footy team ahead of the finals.
Sam Burgess and Wayne Bennett at Suncorp Stadium in Round 2.Source:AAP
“He came in halfway through the season, he hasn’t been with us all season,” Bennett 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.
“Right now, I’m not going to respond to allegations and I’m sure the club’s not and I’m sure the NRL aren’t.
“I’ll keep my powder dry because you might be wrong.”
Originally published as‘I knew nothing about it’: Bennett denies Burgess accusations were widely known at Souths
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