The tragic downfall of troubled NRL star George Burgess has come to light as he entered rehab to cope with ‘gambling and depression’.
The St George prop may not play rugby league again this season after it was revealed he checked in at an unknown establishment to sort out personal issues.
It comes just weeks after Burgess was accused of sexually touching a woman at his Sydney home in March.
Burgess pleaded not guilty and his attorney previously told the court there was a “significant dispute” over what happened.
The 30-year-old is the youngest of four brothers who have all played in professional rugby league, hailing from West Yorkshire in England.
Burgess began his career representing England against the Australian Schoolboys in 2010 when he was just 18, while playing in lower grades and training with the full Bradford Bulls squad.
However, on 1 January 2011 Burgess secured a ticket Down Under after signing with the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the National Youth Competition.
Burgess made his NRL debut in round 13 of the 2012 season for the South Sydney Rabbitohs against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
He played three games in his first year in 2012 and continued to impress in the 2013 season but had to be suspended for three weeks for breaking a car window with a traffic sign in Cairns.
He was banned for two games and fined $10,000.
The NRL star was forced to pay the cost of damages, undergo an anger management program and commit to 50 hours of community support work through Souths Cares.
In July of that year, nude selfies of the then 21-year-old Souths player went viral online. They even found their way to a gay porn site for men.
The two nude images, which show Burgess taking a full-frontal and profile picture of himself naked in the mirror, have been circulating on Twitter.
AWARDS AND PRAISE
Although 2013 was a difficult year, Burgess and his brothers, including older brother Luke, middle brother Sam and twin brother Tom, became the first group of four brothers to line up in the same Australian team since 1910.
Burgess finished the 2013 season strong and was named the 2013 Dally M Rookie of the Year on October 1.
The star player was also selected in England’s 2013 Rugby World Cup squad.
So did the 2014 season, winning the Premiership against the Bulldogs and scoring a try in South Sydney’s 30-6 win.
NO MORE BAN
But in 2015 Burgess was again banned from playing two games for the South Sydney club after throwing a water bottle at Roosters rival Kane Evans.
He was sitting on the bench when he threw the bottle at Evans, who was returning from the pitch.
Burgess was charged with Tier 2 contrary conduct and pleaded guilty, although his lawyer said the case was “trivial”.
The NRL prop was trashed in the third leg of the 2016 season and then suspended for three games after elbowing a Newcastle Knights player in the face.
Burgess was indicted for a shoulder charge in the eighth round and was suspended for four games.
WEDDING TO MODEL
In 2016 Burgess married Australian model Joanna King in Noosa, marrying under an old tree surrounded by their closest friends and family.
Joanna was heavily pregnant at the time of the wedding.
The couple now share three children together, Boston, four, Birdie, three and Blainey, two.
In 2017, he signed an extension contract to play with the Rabbitohs until the end of 2019, where he helped the club win seven games in a row.
However, in round 14 Burgess was indicted after he allegedly tried to gouge out the eyes of Wests Tigers player Robbie Farah.
Footage shows Burgess’ hand pressing around his opponent’s eye area.
Burgess was remorseful and said he was “deeply hurt” when he saw the footage, vowing to be more careful.
He denied it was deliberate and insisted he ‘didn’t know’ where his fingers were.
The three-man panel, including Bob Lindner, Mal Cochrane and Dallas Johnson, took just 30 minutes to reach a decision after the two-hour hearing.
He was suspended for nine games, the longest ban imposed in NRL history.
MOVING TO UK
After his ban, Burgess signed a three-year contract with the Wigan Warriors in the UK and also made his acting debut in a crime thriller called Locusts, where he played a bouncer.
The family moved in 2019 and spent the first year and a half of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.
While making his 2020 debut, Burgess played just eight games and scored one try before a serious hip injury ended the season.
In February 2021, the club announced that by mutual consent Burgess was released from his contract.
This was due to hip surgery which meant he would spend most of the year in rehab.
RETURN TO AUSTRALIA
In mid-2021, the Burgess family returned to Australia after Burgess signed a two-year contract with the Dragons.
But the rugby star and his family had to endure two weeks of self-isolation in separate hotel rooms due to restrictions complications.
Burgess made his club debut in the second round of this year’s season in March
ACCUSATION OF SEXUAL AFFECTING
However, in the same month, the NRL prop was accused of sexually touching a woman at his home in Sydney.
The woman filed a complaint at Mascot Police Station in the south of the city, claiming she was sexually assaulted without her consent by a man she knew on March 8.
According to court documents seen by NCA NewsWire, Mr Burgess allegedly “sexually touched the woman’s buttocks without her consent” between 10:20 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.
He has pleaded not guilty and will face a one-day hearing on February 22, 2023.
At the time of his arrest, the Dragons star said the NRL’s Integrity Unit had been made aware of the investigation.
“St George Illawarra Dragons have been made aware of a matter involving one of their players by the NRL Integrity Unit,” the Dragons said in a statement on March 21.
Although the NRL has a ‘no-fault removal policy’, it has confirmed that Burgess will not be removed.
The charge of sexual touching carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted.
“The National Rugby League has informed the St George Illawarra Dragons that player George Burgess will be permitted to continue playing in the NRL premiership while facing criminal charges,” the NRL said in a statement. a press release on March 28.
TRANSITION TO REHABILITATION
After playing just four games for the Dragons this season, it was revealed this week that Burgess had checked himself into rehab to battle gambling issues and depression.
It is believed he entered the facility at the end of June and is mainly being treated for depression, as well as a gambling problem.
Club officials have confirmed the 30-year-old has been granted time off to undertake drug treatment with medical professionals.
“St George Illawarra can confirm that striker George Burgess has recently been granted leave,” read a club statement.
“Burgess’ absence is personal in nature and unrelated to his current criminal case.”
Originally published as From a glittering rugby league career to rehab: A struggling football star’s problems laid bare