Angry Roosters want NRL to clear rookie’s name amid Burgess scandal

Sydney Roosters officials say rookie centre Billy Smith and his family have been rattled by allegations in The Australian newspaper that Sam Burgess waited outside his house ready to take revenge for something Burgess believed he had done.

And they want public acknowledgement via a media release from the NRL that Smith played no role in the matter.

Sam Burgess and Roosters rookie Billy Smith exchange words.Credit:Getty Images

Putting aside the allegations of domestic violence against Burgess – but in no way making light of or dismissing them – there is a deeply concerning football story in the allegations against the dual international. The Australian reported of clandestine drug testing of Burgess in a car park at Souths Juniors, following an alleged drug-fuelled bender, all done in a dark corner where the cameras can’t see anyone.

The first question is, who knows how to organise such a thing? It is a staggering tale, in part because of the ridiculous nature of it. Burgess has not denied it happened, but he denies being the one who organised the venue for such a test.

Souths insiders have told me it was Phoebe who came up with that plan. Of course, the same Souths insiders won’t put their names to that claim. You can only think Sam has told them. I have asked Sam whose idea it was to go to the car park. He did not respond. Phoebe also did not respond to requests for comment.

The allegations raise serious questions about the role of doctors at NRL clubs.

It is alleged Sam could not do a test in a doctor’s surgery because the test couldn’t be conducted in Sam’s name as it could become public and would have a significant impact on his career. Why the test could not have been conducted in his own home is difficult to understand.

The claims that Souths doctor Andrew McDonald was called in and had to bring Sam down from a drug-fuelled high with a liquid tranquilliser are, if true, deeply troubling for Burgess and the NRL.

The allegations raise serious questions about the role of doctors at NRL clubs. This column has learnt that club boards are briefed by doctors on players’ medical issues on a semi-regular basis. They are told what players are taking and what their medical problems are.

This is done without the chief executive of the club being present. The theory is that players’ health issues are kept completely separate from the never-ending quest for victory and, therefore, not creating any conflicts of interest for the doctors.

I asked South Sydney chairman Nick Pappas in a text if he had been briefed about the Burgess allegations. He did not respond.

Other Souths figures say McDonald does brief the board. The source, with knowledge of the situation, said there are four briefings each year.

There have long been rumours and concerns about prescription drug abuse at Souths and an outside doctor with boxing connections supplying medications to players. Dylan Walker and Aaron Gray almost lost their lives in 2015 after taking sleeping medication and mixing it with an energy drink.

But, if we are to believe Phoebe’s claims, the players at Souths are getting their medication from someone. According to the reports in The Australian, she expressed her concerns about Sam’s reliance on a range of medications.

England rugby coach Eddie Jones has sought out former Broncos coach Anthony Seibold for a role on his staff.Credit:Getty

It’s not the first time league lover Jones has gone down this path.

“When I was at the Brumbies, Igot Gus [Phil Gould] to help me,’’ Jones said. ‘‘He has one of the best brains in sport and I got him to look at things. I really believe in getting people to offer their views even if they are experts in other sports, like league. We see players switch codes and adapt, so I have no problem taking advice from people with an expertise in league.”

Jones met Seibold through his relationship with Jason Ryles, who is an assistant to Craig Bellamy at the Storm, and works with Jones’ England side.

‘‘We got on well and I was really impressed with his [Seibold’s] knowledge and ability to communicate,’’ Jones said. ‘‘I enjoyed my time with him and I know that he will bounce back and coach at the top level again.”

Seibold has been the target of false rumours online. His lawyer, Dave Garrett, promised those who started the internet campaign would be outed and shamed. That was weeks ago and this column still believes nothing will come of his claims that high-profile NRL people will be exposed.

I rang the wife of a person with connections to a former Broncos staffer after I was told she used five false identities to spread the rumours. She denied everything and threatened legal action if I exposed her.

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