There are those who still defiantly believe that the South Sydney Rabbitohs' capitulation in 2023 came on the back of club legend Sam Burgess' fiery departure.

Amidst a storm of controversy, Burgess levelled accusations against coach Jason Demetriou and high-profile players Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell.

Burgess's departure, coupled with his accusations against coach Demetriou, has shaken the Rabbitohs' fanbase and sparked debate within the rugby league community. Allegations of preferential treatment towards Walker and Mitchell have raised questions about team dynamics and leadership within the club.

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According to Burgess, Walker and Mitchell enjoyed an untouchable status within the team. He claimed their work ethic was questionable and that they were allowed to do as they pleased, stifling the team's ability to perform at its best.

Walker, however, expressed shock at the accusations and vehemently denied any issues with team culture. In a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald, he emphasised his commitment to the team and clarified that he had never walked out of team training sessions, contrary to Burgess's claims.

“There are times I get the shits at training and say what needs to be said. If someone's not doing their job, I have the right to tell people, right? It's my job as the senior play-maker in the side. To say I walk off training and do all that sort of stuff, I've never really done that,” Walker stated.

“It's just crazy to think someone can do that. Everyone knows that I'm vocal and animated. That's me wanting to win. I hate losing. I can't stand losing. I'm one of those guys that if someone is not doing their job in the team, I tell them,” he added.

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Meanwhile, Latrell Mitchell, who was deeply affected by the controversy, withdrew from the spotlight, prompting concerns about his well-being. His advisor, Matt Rose, raised alarm over the personal attacks Mitchell faced, referring to the ongoing need to protect players' mental health.

“It's fair game when someone has an opinion on people playing football, but it's the personal attacks by certain individuals that needs to be called out and removed from the game,” Rose stated.

In response to questions about the controversy, Mitchell declined to comment, choosing instead to focus on the future and move past the ordeal.

“We'll just leave that there, mate. We don't dwell on the past,” Mitchell remarked.

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Coach Jason Demetriou has denied the allegations of preferential treatment, asserting that all players are treated fairly and equally within the team. From the outside looking in, it appears that the Bunnies have set their sights on the here and now, and the future.

As the Rabbitohs navigate the aftermath of Burgess's departure, the team holds aspirations of a premiership, and many of the game's commentators see it as something well within reach.

Cody Walker claims that he still wishes to reconcile with Sam Burgess and to gain clarity on the situation.

“I don't hold any hard feelings towards Sam. I still love the player that he was and still have wonderful respect for the man. I'd just like to sit down and have a yarn with him and hash out anything that needs to be hashed out and move on from it,” he stated.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and everyone is entitled to say what's on their mind. I'd just love to sit down with him and see what he was thinking,” he added.

As the Rabbitohs embark on a new chapter, they remain hopeful that unity, resilience and a renewed focus will propel them towards success on the field.

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