Rugby League World Cup: Banned Sam Burgess is not a 'thug', insists Steve McNamara
Tuesday 29 October 2013
The England coach, Steve McNamara, has defended the disciplinary record of forward Sam Burgess after he was ruled out of Saturday's second World Cup Group A match against Ireland through suspension.
The South Sydney player was put on report for a high tackle on second-rower Sam Thaiday in Saturday's opening 28-20 defeat by Australia at the Millennium Stadium, and subsequently received a one-match ban after an international match-review panel decided the challenge was careless.
England have decided not to appeal against the decision and allowed Burgess to take the day out of camp at Loughborough University to represent the squad at a reception with the Prince of Wales at Clarence House.
Australian newspapers have claimed Burgess would have been suspended for up to eight matches had the offence occurred in the NRL, where there is a loading system based on players' previous records. Since joining the Rabbitohs in 2010, Burgess has been charged six times by the NRL match-review committee and has served three suspensions this season, including one for an infamous "squirrel grip" on Melbourne centre Will Chambers.
McNamara dismissed a claim by one Australian journalist that the former Bradford forward is a "thug". "That is completely wrong," the coach said. "Anyone who understands Sam knows he's not that type of player."
McNamara said that he had no injury problems. "Everyone was available last week barring Sean O'Loughlin, who we decided not to risk, and everyone is available this week. We've got 24 really good players in our squad."
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