Sam Burgess, the former rugby league and union international, has been accused of attacking his heavily pregnant wife during a series of drug-fuelled rampages which were covered up by his club in Australia.
The 31-year-old Yorkshireman, who is accused in police documents of harassment, was witnessed “crushing his 116kg” body into wife Phoebe Burgess, and calling her “you weak c---” during a host of cocaine and ecstasy-fuelled episodes, it is claimed.
However, according to documents, texts and police interviews uncovered by The Australian newspaper, drug abuse claims were covered up by the Russell Crowe-owned South Sydney Rabbitohs. Phoebe Burgess was also said to have told the Hollywood actor about his alleged use of “heavy drugs” as well as “booze” and “girls on social media” in a text message. Burgess dismissed the claims as “lies”, The Australian reports.
Burgess made his name in rugby league with Bradford Bulls and NRL side Rabbitohs but became a surprise selection in Stuart Lancaster’s England squad for the disastrous 2015 World Cup campaign, just nine months after switching codes to play for Bath.
A spokesman for Burgess denied all the allegations against him, but Burgess’s father-in-law, Mitch Hooke, claimed he witnessed the assault on Phoebe, who has since divorced the player. “I was worried she was going to lose the baby,” Hooke said.
In a statement to police, Phoebe, 31, wrote of “physical violence as well as emotional and psychological abuse” by her then husband. “Sam during our relationship has made me feel intimidated and scared,” she added. After their son, Billy, was born in Dec 2018, she claimed in her statement that he screamed: “Why are you f------crying in front of my children, you weak c---. Get the f--- out of my house. You’re pathetic.”
Officials at the highest levels of the club were notified about Burgess’s use of drugs in the months prior to his promotion to club captain in April 2019, the newspaper claims. In a bid to cover up allegations against their star man, South are said to have used fake identities to hide positive tests for MDMA – the substance used in ecstasy – and ketamine, a horse tranquilliser. On another occasion, their star player admitted using cocaine and also went “beyond recognition” after taking six ecstasy pills, it is alleged.
Burgess is also said to have claimed in private messages in Sept 2018 that then-NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg had told him he would not be suspended over a separate “sexting” scandal. That scandal had blown up when a woman complained to the club that she had been subjected to sexual harassment by Burgess and other players during a video call in which he allegedly exposed himself.
According to sworn statements provided to police, he then tested positive for MDMA and ketamine during clandestine tests in an underground car park belonging to South Sydney Juniors club.
Burgess is reportedly facing a domestic violence charge of intimidation relating to a separate argument at Hooke’s home in Oct 2019 . The Australian says it has uncovered pharmaceutical records, sworn statements to New South Wales Police, statutory declarations, witness accounts, call logs, emails, text messages, bank records, WhatsApp exchanges and Uber receipts that support its claims.
Lawyer Mark O’Brien, acting for Burgess, has strongly denied all allegations. “The allegations are false and constitute an indefensible defamation against my client,” he told The Australian. “It is apparent sources of the false allegations are those currently in dispute with my client over various issues.”
Phoebe declined to comment on details of the case, but told The Australian it was “an extremely painful, difficult time and I am trying to care for my two toddlers while we move on from an extremely traumatic chapter of our lives”.
The Daily Telegraph has sought to contact South Sydney Rabbitohs as well as Burgess’s spokesman.