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‘He gave me a serve’: Bennett blasts Burgess over penalty spree

It was a throwback to when Bennett publicly lambasted Burgess for giving away too many penalties after England had lost to Australia in a Four Nations clash in 2016.

Asked whether Bennett had jolted him for his display against the Raiders, Burgess said: “He gave me a serve at half-time in front of the team and that was it.

He gave me a serve at half-time in front of the team and that was it

Sam Burgess

“He said if I give another one away I’m off the field and that’s it. That [spray while playing for England] was good. You know where you stand at least.

“I knew I’d given five away – thinking about it it’s crazy – but it’s gone. It’s done now. It’s something I’ve been working on and I’ve made a conscious effort to change. That’s why I was disappointed.”

The Raiders were privately baffled Burgess’ string of penalties didn’t result in the 30-year-old being sent to the sin bin, his display in part prompting Annesley to put all NRL players on notice about ruck infringements.

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Burgess’ discipline had been exemplary in the opening two months of this season after a series of trips to the judiciary last year.

But Bennett wasn’t afraid to put him on notice if he returned to old habits, describing his string of penalties in such a short time last weekend as “mad”.

“In the last couple of years I’ve made a conscious effort to try to change it and I looked at where my penalties came and there was a bit of a pattern so I just tried to change the pattern,” he said. “I seemed to have done that.

“They happened pretty quick. It didn’t surprise me [not going to the sin bin] because they didn’t say anything. There was no warning or anything. The penalties … I didn’t think they were ridiculous.

“I wasn’t taking people’s heads off. The penalties were all quirky little penalties. I’ve given away four penalties all year and then I’ve given away five [in one half alone].”

Burgess will come up against his old South Sydney coach and New Zealand boss Michael Maguire for the first time in the cardinal and myrtle when the table-topping Rabbitohs host the Tigers on Saturday night.

Halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds will make one final push for State of Origin selection, hoping to dislodge Luke Keary and Nathan Cleary for the series opener at Suncorp Stadium next month.

“The team’s going to change a bit,” Burgess said. “We’re going to have to manage it.

“We’re in a decent spot and we’ll just go on a week-to-week basis and we’ll see who gets picked [for NSW]. Whether we back them up or not will be based on information and it’s hard to make decisions [at this stage].

“We might miss guys for a couple of games, but we’ve got trust on the people who will come in.”

Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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