South Sydney captain Sam Burgess insists he's no rugby league thug (AAP Image/Steven Saphore)
South Sydney captain Sam Burgess insists he's no rugby league thug after escaping an eighth suspension of his decorated but turbulent NRL career on a drama-charged night at the judiciary.
While Penrith playmaker James Maloney was rubbed out of Friday night's crucial clash with Cronulla after being unable to talk his way out of a low-grade tripping charge, Burgess sat stony-faced and silent as his sharp-minded legal eagle pulled off an unexpected judiciary coup.
Facing a two-match ban for a high shot on Matt Moylan that has left the Sharks fullback sidelined for at least a week while suffering concussion symptoms, Burgess had his charge reduced from a grade two to grade one.
Instead of missing matches against Melbourne and Canterbury, he was fined $1900 but will be free to tackle the Storm in a Sunday showstopper in Gosford, then the Bulldogs next week.
"We thought we had a case prior to coming here. It's why we came and I'm thankful we got a fair hearing," Burgess said.
"We were asking for consistency and we got that tonight. Sometimes you just don't know, but I thought the evidence probably helped us.
"The initial finding we thought both grade one and two were a week anyway but we were then later informed it was just a financial penalty for a grade one, so it made more sense (to challenge the grading)."
Burgess was just four minutes into his comeback from an eight-week layoff following shoulder surgery when he caught Moylan high with a swinging arm that left the fullback, according to the NRL's legal counsel Peter McGrath, reeling "like a rag doll".
"He dropped the ball, his eyes closed. He lost all control," McGrath said.
But Burgess's lawyer Nick Ghabar insisted the initial point of Burgess's contact on Moylan was "at worst, the base of his neck".
He also noted that Moylan passed a head injury assessment and told the judiciary panel "there was no evidence of any injury".
"In the case tonight, I'm actually just trying to make a tackle," Burgess said.
"It's not a loose play, I'm not swinging arms, I'm not intentionally trying to hit someone around the head.
"But these things happen in sport. I take responsibility. There was, I guess, a careless factor in terms of that's why we're here. There's a penalty.
"But I don't think I'm a dirty player. I don't intentionally go out to do that "
Souths coach Wayne Bennett was among those critical of Burgess's poor disciplinary record in the aftermath to the hardman's latest brush with trouble.
"He was probably not happy with a lot of things," Burgess said.
"But we've got a great relationship so that's not a worry."
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