ENGLAND prop George Burgess has received a four-game ban for gouging but insisted it was unintentional.
The South Sydney forward will miss Sunday’s third and final Test match against New Zealand at Elland Road as well as the opening three rounds of the 2019 NRL season.
He was found guilty of a Grade D behaviour ‘contrary to the true spirit of the game charge’ by an international disciplinary panel last night.
The Yorkshireman had been cited by the match review panel following an incident in the 60th minute of Sunday’s second Test win over the Kiwis at Anfield.
Although the offence was missed by officials at the time, video footage showed his fingers make contact with an eye of New Zealand captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
Dewsbury-born Burgess, 26, pleaded not guilty to the charge in front of a three-man international disciplinary panel but was suspended and also fined £500.
On Twitter last night, he said: “I want to make it completely clear to everyone that it was never my intention to ever gauge (sic) anyone.
“It is not in my make-up as a rugby league player and never has been. I sincerely apologise to anyone who thinks bad of me after seeing the footage.
“I always set out to be a positive role model for the younger generation and I will continue to do so.”
Burgess has been impressive in this autumn having won his place back in Wayne Bennett’s squad after being dropped for last year’s World Cup.
The former Bradford Bulls player featured against France and in both wins over the Kiwis but must now sit out the last game in Leeds when England hope to complete a whitewash.
Wigan Warriors’ second-row Joe Greenwood – the only unused forward in Bennett’s 24-man squad – will hope to be brought in to make his debut this weekend.
Halifax have signed Samoan full-back Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e for a second time following his departure from Castleford.
The 33-year-old former Sheffield Eagles favourite joined the Championship club in April after being released by Toronto but spent only a month at The Shay before being snapped up on a short-term contract by Castleford.
Laulu-Togaga’e went on to make nine appearances in Super League before losing out to new signing Peter Mata’utia and was not offered a new deal at the end of the season.
Halifax say the player has now signed a one-year deal with them which does not include a Super League clause.