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Souths boss claims George Burgess' nine-match eye gouging ban a 'tragedy'

The fate of George Burgess' career at South Sydney now sits in the hands of his teammates after copping a nine-game NRL ban for an eye gouge.

Burgess was found guilty of a eye gouging Wests Tigers veteran Robbie Farah last week, ruling him out for the rest of the regular season.

Unless he earns a contract extension, the only chance the twin brother of Thomas Burgess will appear for the Rabbitohs again will be if they make the finals.

It comes after initial fears George could be wiped out for up to 12 weeks.

The three-man panel of Bob Lindner, Mal Cochrane and Dallas Johnson took 30 minutes to give their verdict in a hearing that lasted almost two hours at NRL HQ.

South Sydney boss Shane Richardson described the ruling as a "tragedy".

"It's a tragedy for George and his family and the whole situation that's come up," Richardson said after the hearing.

"I want to say this though: George is a loving father, a brother, and a son. And South Sydney, he's nothing but an ornament to the club all the way through."

The suspension is believed to be the longest since former Canterbury star James Graham was whacked with a 12-game ban for biting in the 2012 grand final.

NRL prosecutor Peter McGrath asked the panel to consider a ban of up to 10 matches, while defence counsel was pleading for a maximum of six games.

The 900 points decided upon by the panel included the 50 per cent loading and any leniency shown because of Burgess' admission of guilt.

A remorseful Burgess was adamant the incident wasn't deliberate, but conceded a behavioural pattern had emerged given it was his second eye gouge in a year.

The English international was banned for four games earlier this year after also being found guilty of eye gouging Dallin Watene-Zelezniak last November.

Richardson was quick to defend his front-rower's reputation after the hearing.

"I don't think this should ever define what George Burgess is about in any way, shape or form," Richardson said.

"It's an unfortunate incident which he pleaded guilty to tonight. But it will not define his career and he's nothing but a quality human being."


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