V’landys declares investigation into ‘serious’ claims
The NRL's integrity unit will launch an investigation into serious claims surrounding South Sydney rugby league club and its former forward and development coach Sam Burgess.
NRL boss Andrew Abdo said there were "new allegations" and he would speak with South Sydney officials on Friday.
"These allegations are very serious and I've instructed the Integrity Unit to investigate the claims as a priority," Abdo said.
"We will also seek the advice of police and other relevant authorities throughout this process.
"This is new information for the NRL and it is important we now gather the facts. The allegations have not yet been tested and due process will be followed as we undertake a thorough investigation.
"There is no place in our game for violence, harassment or abuse against women. If anyone is found guilty of these allegations we will take the strongest possible action."
Earlier, ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said the explosive allegations of a Rabbitohs club cover-up of substance abuse, violence and harassment to protect Burgess, were "pretty serious."
The allegations, contained in a report by The Australian newspaper, have been vehemently denied by Burgess' lawyer.
The South Sydney club are also accused of using fake identities to hide results for drug tests for illegal substances.
V'landys on Friday told The Daily Telegraph that NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo would launch an immediate investigation.
"Every person in the community deserves due process and natural justice," V'landys said.
"The allegations have to be tested and we have to undertake an investigation.
"We should have no prejudgement.
"Both Sam and the club should be afforded that.
"And without prejudging this instance, I stress that we have zero tolerance for violence against women or children, and we will never tolerate it.
"But we have to investigate this.
"We can't not give them the opportunity of due process and natural justice."
V'landys said the NRL's integrity department would seek information from The Australian.
"We are taking the matter pretty serious because these are serious allegations," V'landys added.
"But I have to keep stressing that he has to be given the opportunity to defend himself.
"At this stage these are allegations. They are not proven and they are not tested."
Asked if Burgess would be able to stay in the South Sydney 'bubble' ahead of the Rabbitohs' opening finals clash against Newcastle on Sunday, V'landys reiterated: "Again, at this stage they are allegations. We will start up an immediate investigation and see what evidence we can get.
"And if we do have sufficient evidence we will take the appropriate action. But until we see the evidence and until we see the facts you can't make a judgment."
Burgess has been working on the South Sydney coaching staff this season.
Originally published as V'landys declares investigation into 'serious' Burgess claims