Ex-NRL star wanted ‘intimacy’ but denies sexual touch

Miklos Bolza |

George Burgess (right) has denied in court that he touched a woman’s buttocks.
George Burgess (right) has denied in court that he touched a woman’s buttocks.

Despite admitting he delivered a signed rugby league jersey to a woman’s home with the intention of “being intimate” with her, an ex-NRL star denies he groped her or stuck his hands down his pants.

George Burgess has faced court accused of one count of sexual touching without consent for allegedly touching the woman’s buttocks, an allegation he firmly denies.

Giving evidence in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Monday, the 31-year-old said he visited the woman’s home on March 8, 2022 to give her a signed St George Illawarra jersey.

The UK-born player said he never touched the woman’s backside, but admitted placing his hand on her lower back while she made tea in the kitchen.

“I sort of came behind her to see what tea she was using,” he said under questioning by his lawyer, Bryan Wrench.

“At that point, I touched her on the lower back.”

The woman, who cannot be legally named, then asked whether he was married and he replied “yes”, the court heard.

The pair went to sit on her couch, where the former front-rower said he talked, joked and put his arm around her to get a photo.

“I was being cheeky, I was being friendly,” he said.

“It was nothing more than that.”

George Burgess playing for St George Illawarra (file image)
Burgess said he had attended the woman’s home to give her a signed St George Illawarra jersey. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Under cross-examination by police prosecutor Adrian Walsh, the 31-year-old said he had put his hands on the woman’s back to be friendly.

He argued he acted like this with most of his female friends.

He admitted asking the woman to cuddle on the sofa and stay for five minutes to “be naughty” with him.

“While you were on the lounge, you said to her, ‘nothing’s ever happened between us, but something should’. Do you remember saying that?” Sgt Walsh asked.

“Yes,” Burgess replied.

He denied trying to kiss or have sex with the woman or mentioning her “juicy arse” but conceded he tried to “hit (her) up to be intimate”.

He also said he did not stick his hand down the front of his pants. 

George Burgess arrives at Downing Centre Local Court
Burgess admitted asking the woman to cuddle and stay for five minutes to “be naughty” with him. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

After seeing the woman was “a bit uncomfortable”, repeating that she needed to go to work, Burgess said he got up, left her apartment and went home.

He sent her a “horny devil” emoji after he left to acknowledge that he had been “a bit cheeky, a bit flirty”, the court heard.

Burgess received a Snapchat message from the woman next day, accusing him of sexual assault and groping, the court heard.

“That could ruin not only your family but also your career,” the woman wrote.

“I was gutted, I was shocked,” Burgess said.

“I’ve never had anyone sort of say that about me, so I was quite taken aback by it for sure.”

George Burgess (right) arrives at Downing Centre Local Court
Burgess said he was “100 per cent” sorry for offending the woman. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Burgess said he was “100 per cent” sorry for offending the woman and had sent later Snapchat messages to try defuse the situation.

“By defusing it, you were trying to water it down so that it would protect your family and your career?” Sgt Walsh asked.

“Yes,” the ex-NRL star replied.

Sgt Walsh told Magistrate Emma Manea that Burgess’ version mostly lined up with what the complainant alleged had occurred.

“He really only had one thing on his mind and he was very persistent with his advances,” he said.

“There is overwhelming evidence to support the prosecution case that he did what he did.”

Mr Wrench defended his client, pointing out admissions of wanting “something more” with the alleged victim.

“He said this in a public court,” the lawyer said. 

“He is ashamed of those intentions but he did not act in a way where he on the complainant’s version grabbed her on the bottom … without consent.”

A verdict will be handed down on May 10.

The 31-year-old retired from rugby league in November after playing for South Sydney, the Wigan Warriors and finally St George Illawarra.

He has 153 NRL games to his name, as well as 15 tests for England.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

AAP