Robbie Farah wants gouging crackdown as George Burgess faces ten weeks

Now, just as the NRL has clamped down on the shoulder charge, lifting tackles and now the crusher tackle, Farah wants eye-gouging to follow suit.

Josh McGuire has already been fined twice this season for alleged gouging – he was charged with contrary conduct – while Canberra’s Hudson Young is serving a five-match ban. Burgess himself missed four games after being charged with gouging during an England and New Zealand Test last year.

George Burgess is under scrutiny for his conduct in a tackle on Robbie Farah.Credit:Channel Nine

“I felt it [the finger] and it was sufficient enough to get a reaction out of me,” Farah said. “My eye is pretty sore. I don’t know why he did it or what he was thinking but he apologised to me and there are no hard feelings.

“I think eye gouging, biting, you can’t have it in the game, it’s not a good look. A high tackle at times can be accidental or in a split second it can be more reactionary.

“But I don’t think there are any excuses for the other things [like gouging]. I don’t like seeing it in the game, it’s not a good image for the viewers at home. Hopefully, we can stamp it out.

“We’ve cracked down on the crusher and even the lifting tackles, and they seem to have been eradicated from the game. We have to deter players from going out and doing those things. If punishments are strong enough, then players won’t do it.

“I was pretty dirty at the time and I wasn’t sure who it was. I got up spraying ‘Cooky’ [Damien Cook] because he was the last one off the tackle. It wasn’t until I saw the footage [I realised it was Burgess].

“The ref saw it straight away. I got up blowing up, but the ref told me to calm down and he had control of it. George apologised to me after the game and said it was an ‘accident’. I don’t know … he apologised, I accept his apology and we’ll move on.”

Cook told the Herald he was unsure why good mate Farah turned on him at first, but understood once he watched the replays on the big screen inside Bankwest Stadium.

“I didn’t know what to say. It was like being guilty with your missus when you’d done nothing wrong,” Cook quipped.

“I think George’s hand was in the wrong place. I don’t think there was any intent. I saw them talking after the game.”

Tigers skipper Moses Mbye said: “I’m not sure about the rules with send-offs and sin-bins, but that one wasn’t pretty. I’m confident he’ll be spending some time on the sidelines and will regret that one.”

Burgess could be looking at the biggest NRL suspension in recent history, with Parramatta’s Junior Paulo rubbed out for nine games at the start of 2015 for a lifting tackle, and Charlie Gubb seven games for a shoulder charge in 2016.

The giant Brit remains without a deal for next year and should he be given a lengthy ban could be denied the chance to run out along side brothers Sam and Tom again in the Souths colours.

The Redfern club has already indicated it will not have sufficient funds to keep him.

Top whistleblower and former match review committee chairman Greg McCallum felt Burgess should have been sent off “given the apparent seriousness of the incident”.


“I am a firm believer dismissals still form and should form an important part of our game,” said McCallum, who added “eight to 10 weeks” was not an unrealistic penalty for Burgess.

“Where we are fortunate is that retaliation doesn’t really occur anymore.”

Souths coach Wayne Bennett was naturally disappointed with Burgess and said after the club’s fourth successive loss: “He’s been good this year [discipline wise]. He’s just had a moment. I wish I could tell you why they have those moments.”

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