Footy great Sam Burgess is being praised as a ‘genuinely decent bloke’ after he rushed to the aid of a visually impaired Rabbitohs fan who had fainted in scorching heat.
The woman, who uses a wheelchair, was watching the South Sydney NRL team train at Redfern Oval in Sydney on Thursday as the city baked through one of the hottest days of the summer.
The fan’s support worker Jolzy Louise-Prophet said that the Englishman and bunnies new assistant coach Burgess, 34, was by the woman’s side before she even needed to raise the alarm.
Rabbitohs great Sam Burgess, 34, and new girlfriend Lucy Graham (pictured together)
On South Sydney supporter heaped praise on Burgess after he helped a woman who fainted
‘Approximately 11am on January 26 my client had a medical episode just outside of Redfern oval,’ Ms Louise-Prophet wrote to Facebook on the weekend.
‘She is a 53 year old women with many health problems and is visually impaired, but that has not stopped her from supporting her team the Rabbitohs,’ she said.
Her client, Vicki Panos, was excited to ‘see the boys up close and get some signatures’ she said.
‘After the training was over we were leaving to return home, however the heat proved too much for my client and she collapsed on the floor. I was there assisting her and when I turned around here was the amazing Sam Burgess on the floor helping my client.’
‘Sam never left her side, he offered her his own personal drink and helped her to sip. He held her up as she was in and out of consciousness. He was sweet and reassuring. He showed so much compassion and empathy.’
She added that Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou called for the staff to get cool towels, ice and water and that he watched over Sam and my client to make sure she was recovering.
‘They never left until she was in the safe hands of the ambulance workers.’
The Rabbitoh’s fan had fainted from the heat and was looked after by Burgess (pictured with Latrell Mitchell)
‘We love to go to games, we love to put on our jerseys, we love to meet the players, we love our team win or lose, but none of that will match the pride we have today after witnessing the true love, care and support from the boys to someone in need.’
‘Sam Burgess is truly a Superstar, he did not have to stop, he did not have to help, he did not have to care. But he did stop, he did help and he does care.’
The praise would be a welcome change for Burgess who has had a string of legal troubles since retiring from the game.
In December, he was stopped in the Sydney suburb of Kingsford for roadside drug testing and subsequently taken to a nearby station when he allegedly tested positive for an illicit substance.
He underwent secondary testing and was issued a notice to appear at Waverley Local Court on 15 February for driving unregistered.
‘Inquiries are continuing, and police will await the result of a secondary oral fluid analysis,’ a police statement said.
On Thursday evening, Burgess took to social media to deny he had driven with drugs in his system.
Burgess has been in the press for a series of legal troubles since retiring from football
‘After I was released from the police station, I immediately and voluntarily went to an independent, internationally accredited testing facility and undertook a urine test,’ he wrote in a statement.
‘I deny any suggestion that I have drugs in my system. I have not consumed, obtained, or possessed any illicit drugs.’
Burgess played 182 games for the Rabbitohs between 2010 and 2019 and won the Clive Churchill medal as man of the match in the club’s drought-breaking 2014 grand final win.
In March, the NRL fined Burgess $30,000 for using illicit drugs and threatening another player in 2018, and driving with traces of cocaine in his system in February 2021 while working at the Rabbitohs in an off-field role.
For the latter incident, Burgess avoided conviction but was placed on a nine-month good behaviour bond.
The NRL also suspended him from official duties with South Sydney for 12 weeks and any further sanctions could impinge on his hopes of launching a professional coaching career.
Burgess played 182 games for the Rabbitohs between 2010 and 2019 and won the Clive Churchill medal as man of the match in the club’s drought-breaking 2014 grand final win