Arizona High Altitude Training

20th November 2014

Souths coach Michael Maguire will continue to pioneer new coaching ground when the Rabbitohs become the first NRL team to travel 12,500km to the US to embark on a high-altitude training camp in Arizona. Set to cost around $200,000, the Bunnies players will pay for part of the trip out of their own pockets, with players to climb the Grand Canyon and Mount Humphreys. All of South Sydney’s NRL roster, with the exception of players involved in the Four Nations tournament, will depart on November 15.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs conquered one of the natural wonders of the world, in the form of the Grand Canyon as part of their high altitude training camp in Arizona, USA. The eight hour, 26 kilometre trek through the steep Canyon saw the squad tested both physically and mentally in what is sure to rank as one of their biggest tests of the pre-season. Prop-forward, Luke Burgess, caught up with teammates following the challenge to get their perspective on the trek including Ben Lowe. “It was a great experience – something that you should tick off on your bucket list once,” said Lowe. “To go down and up in one day was pretty special with the boys. A few tender spots after the Grand Canyon it’s fair to say. “But look it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to the rest of the camp.”

Arizona Earthquake Spooks Players

30th November 2014

NO forward pack in the NRL can scare the South Sydney Rabbitohs — but an earthquake can. On the last night of their Arizona-based training camp, the hotel Souths were staying in suddenly began shaking and swaying. Turns out it was a full-on 4.7 magnitude earthquake at 11:00pm November 30. The players and coaching staff were in their hotel rooms when it occurred. No one was injured, but it frightened the life out of them. “It was certainly an experience that left us a bit shocked,” coach Michael Maguire said. “It felt like a semi-trailer was coming through the building. “We were all in different parts of the hotel and it shook a few of the boys. “No one was in any danger and it was more the shock of what was happening.” None of the Souths players had experienced anything like it. “Being in an earthquake was the first time for all of us and no one knew what was going to happen,” Maguire said. “It went for about 10 seconds. You hate to be in a more serious one. It was certainly the main topic over breakfast the next morning.” The earthquake caused only minor damage in the city where they were staying. Emergency workers had to clear rocks and debris from a nearby highway but there was no major damage or injuries reported. Arizona has only two earthquakes every 100 years. The Rabbitohs returned home on Tuesday to share the story with their relieved families.

Incident in Arizona

8th Feburary 2015

Two South Sydney Rabbitohs players, Luke Burgess and John Sutton, were involved in an incident in Arizona at the end of the team’s high altitude training camp last year. The Rabbitohs informed the NRL Integrity Unit of the incident straight away and have kept the Integrity Unit informed along the way. An intoxicated Sutton and Burgess were asked to leave Cuvee 928 Wine Bar and Restaurant in Flagstaff at 1.30am on November 30. It is believed a minor incident between Burgess and security occurred shortly after the pair were asked to leave. Burgess did not throw a punch while Sutton was not involved. The players were arrested for disorderly behaviour. As per standard practice in the US Burgess and Sutton were locked up by police for eight hours to sober up. The charges that were laid have since been withdrawn. Despite the charges being withdrawn, the players were disciplined internally by the Club for breaching the Club’s Code of Conduct, in consultation with the NRL, and the NRL is completely satisfied by the actions taken by the Club.

Souths players were fined and John Sutton was removed as captain over this pre-season incident in the United States. Maguire said "people were always going to look into" the incident as the reason Sutton was sacked. "There were parts of it that contributed [to the decision]," Maguire said. "It was also a lot of other factors: John's change of position [to the back row] and moving forward to reinvigorate where we are going. We were open in our discussions. Everything plays a part when you're moving forward.

Luke Burgess has since been released from the club. But since the incident it has been identified that he used his own English lawyer for a "misdemeanour settlement" to have charges against him dropped. This was not disclosed to Souths club officials.

NRL Reopens Arizona Incident Investigation

11th Feburary 2015

The NRL Integrity Unit said today it has re-opened its investigation into an incident involving two South Sydney players in the United States late last year. A spokesman said the Integrity Unit had received new information which will be investigated. There will be no further comment until the investigation has been completed.

NRL Fines Souths $20,000 over Arizona Incident

2nd March 2015

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have been fined $20,000 by the NRL for their handling of the pre-season incident in Arizona. Both John Sutton and Luke Burgess won't receive any further suspension. NRL chief operating officer Suzanne Young says the Rabbitohs "did not follow the matter to its conclusion". "The Rabbitohs club had met its obligations in advising the integrity unit about the incident involving Luke Burgess and John Sutton late last year," she said. "However the club had failed to follow the matter to its conclusion, which would have enabled it to notify the unit that the charges against Burgess had been withdrawn after an agreement to pay compensation to the security guard involved in the incident. "Both Burgess and Sutton had already been disciplined by the Rabbitohs and no further action would be taken against them." Young said the investigation did not prove that any Souths official, including then-CEO Shane Richardson, knew that a payment had been paid to the bouncer. She added the club should have been more diligent in ascertaining whether a payment requested by the security officer had been made by Burgess, who was an employee of the club.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs, in response to the NRL, are disappointed by the NRL’s decision today to issue a breach notice and a proposed fine. The Club is currently exploring its options regarding its response to the breach notice, including the merits of the findings and the amount that the NRL is proposing to fine our Club. The South Sydney Rabbitohs acknowledge the receipt of a National Rugby League breach notice today relating to the NRL Integrity Unit’s findings following its re-opened investigation into events that took place during the Club’s high altitude training camp in Arizona in November 2014. The Club will consider its position on this matter over the next five business days and reserves the right to respond to the breach notice on both the merits of the findings and the severity of the proposed penalty.

NRL Rejects Fine Appeal

31st March 2015

The Rabbitohs were informed that the Club has been unsuccessful in its appeal against a breach notice regarding the incident which took place in Arizona in November last year. The NRL dismissed the Rabbitohs’ response to the breach notice and have said the fine will stand.