News, Culture & Society

Why George Burgess could play despite ‘sexual touching’ charge and NRL’s no-fault stand-down rule

St George Illawarra star George Burgess could be free to play in Thursday’s round three derby against Cronulla  – despite being charged over the alleged sexual touching of a woman. 

A NRL spokesperson confirmed to Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday morning that Burgess, 29, may be able to line up in Wollongong for the Dragons as the seriousness of the alleged incident falls short of invoking the league’s no-fault stand-down rule that saw Jack de Belin banned.

However the NRL does have discretionary power to suspend Burgess anyway, and CEO Andrew Abdo is expected to make a ruling later on Tuesday.

In 2019, fellow Dragons forward de Belin was the first player subject to the NRL ‘no fault’ stand down rule, which sees anyone charged with a crime which carries a sentence of 11 years or more banned from taking the field.

Following two court trials, charges of aggravated sexual assault against de Belin were eventually dropped, with the NRL registering de Belin’s playing contract on May 28 last year.

NRL star George Burgess could be free to play in Thursday’s round three derby against Cronulla – despite being charged over the alleged sexual touching of a woman (pictured, with his wife Joanna)

St George Illawarra Dragons star George Burgess attended Mascot Police Station on Monday and was charged before he was granted bail

St George Illawarra Dragons star George Burgess attended Mascot Police Station on Monday and was charged before he was granted bail

Burgess is married to former model Joanna King, with the couple sharing three children

Burgess is married to former model Joanna King, with the couple sharing three children

In Burgess’ case, he has been charged with sexual touching of a woman which carries a sentence of five years – short of the 11-year threshold that triggered the stand down rule.

The woman made the allegation against Burgess to police in Mascot in Sydney’s inner-south last week. 

She claims the sexual touching occurred in the same suburb earlier this month.

The Dragons forward and his lawyer volunteered to assist police in the investigation with the English born front-rower attending the station on Monday afternoon.

The 29-year-old – who is married with three kids – was charged on Monday night with sexual touching another without consent. 

He is due to appear in Sydney’s Downing Centre on April 13.

George Burgess (pictured) was charged on Monday night with sexual touching another without consent. He will appear in Sydney's Downing Centre on April 13

George Burgess (pictured) was charged on Monday night with sexual touching another without consent. He will appear in Sydney’s Downing Centre on April 13

Burgess signed on to play with the St George Illawarra Dragons until 2023 after a stint in the English Super League with Wigan

Burgess signed on to play with the St George Illawarra Dragons until 2023 after a stint in the English Super League with Wigan

Details about the alleged incident have not been released.  

A spokesman for the Dragons said the club were alerted to the matter by the NRL’s Integrity Unit.

Her allegation emerged just three days after Burgess played for the Red V in their 20-16 loss to Penrith last Friday night.

Aside from de Belin, the only other player who has been banned under the no-fault stand down rule is Melbourne Storm forward Tui Kamikamica, who is facing an assault charge following an alleged incident with a woman at a Brisbane nightspot in 2021. 

 Burgess, 29, returned to the NRL after a stint with the Wigan Warriors.

He previously played 149 games for the South Sydney Rabbitohs from 2012 to 2019.  

Burgess arrived back in Australia and went into hotel quarantine in late July, after signing on to play with the St George Illawarra Dragons until 2023. 

The family, however, had to serve the quarantine period in separate hotels, with George and his son Boston, four, staying in one hotel, while his wife Joanna and their other two children, Birdie and Blainey, were quarantining in another. 

The powerful forward recently underwent surgery for a recurring hip injury as he seeks to revive his career in the NRL. 

‘Hopefully (I’ll) bounce back to my best after the recent surgery by getting super fit again and playing good footy,’ he said of his return. 

George also has a twin brother, Tom, who plays for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

The Dragons forward has three children with his wife Joanna, a former model.   

In 2019, fellow Dragons forward Jack de Belin was the first player subject to the NRL 'no fault' stand down rule, which sees anyone charged with a crime which carries a sentence of 11 years or more banned from taking the field

In 2019, fellow Dragons forward Jack de Belin was the first player subject to the NRL ‘no fault’ stand down rule, which sees anyone charged with a crime which carries a sentence of 11 years or more banned from taking the field

Melbourne Storm forward Tui Kamikamica (pictured right) currently remains subject to the NRL no-fault stand-down policy as he fights an assault charge following an alleged incident with a woman at a Brisbane nightspot in 2021

Melbourne Storm forward Tui Kamikamica (pictured right) currently remains subject to the NRL no-fault stand-down policy as he fights an assault charge following an alleged incident with a woman at a Brisbane nightspot in 2021

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk