SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 15: Tom Burgess of the Rabbitohs watches on during the NRL Semi Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

South Sydney will be without forward George Burgess for the first three rounds of the 2019 NRL season, after the Englishman was found guilty of eye gougeing New Zealand captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak during the second Test last weekend.

Burgess was also fined £500 for the incident, after fronting the disciplinary panel on Tuesday night and pleading not guilty to the eye gouge charge.

Despite accepting his punishment, Burgess took to Twitter and was adamant he didn’t intentionally eye gouge the young Kiwi.

“I want to make it completely clear to everyone that it was never my intention to ever gauge anyone. It is not in my makeup as a rugby league player and never has been. I sincerely apologise to anyone who thinks bad of me after seeing the footage,” Burgess said in a statement on Twitter.

I always set out to be a positive role model for the younger generation and I will continue to do so.

I accept my punishment but I will never accept that I gauged a fellow players eye intentionally. I have too much respect for the players I play against and with.”

Burgess will now miss the Rabbitohs’ first three NRL matches of 2019 against the Roosters, Dragons and Titans.

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