Cash-strapped Bunnies set to lose Burgess brother
SOUTH Sydney will reluctantly split up the Burgess brothers at the end of the season because they don't have the money under the salary cap to keep George.
Sam, George and Tom have all made their names playing together at Redfern but it is expected the Rabbitohs won't be able to make George a competitive offer when he comes off contract at the end of the season.
George, still only 27, is understood to be considering a return to the English Super League.
The other two Burgess brothers are contracted until the end of 2023. Sam signed a four-year extension last September and Tom agreed to a new deal in January.
Niggling injuries kept George off the training track on Wednesday but he will play in Thursday night's grudge match against Brisbane at ANZ Stadium.
George has played 140 games since 2012 during a stellar career at Souths and will remain a key player in the club's strong push for a premiership.
Sam has played 170 games for the Rabbitohs and Tom 126. The fourth brother, Luke, played 51 matches in red and green.
George will long be remembered for his barnstorming performance in the club's 2014 grand final win over Canterbury, which included a memorable try to break a 6-6 deadlock in the second half.
Meanwhile, Souths are still waiting for the NRL to make a decision on what salary cap relief they are entitled to after the sudden retirement of Greg Inglis, who was deemed to be medically fit to continue playing.
Rabbitohs officials hope the matter can be resolved within the next 24 hours to allow the club to look at recruitment and retention.
Brisbane centre James Roberts wants to play at Souths under former coach Wayne Bennett, although the Rabbitohs have not made a formal approach.
It is understood a third party close to Roberts has made contact with Souths.
Some people close to Roberts want him back at Souths, where he started his NRL career, while others believe the bright lights of Sydney could distract the NSW centre.
Asked when he last spoke to Roberts, Bennett said: "Probably when I left. I didn't even speak to him then, actually. We will have to wait and see who wants to do what.
"You are all suggesting this and that about this player and that player but we have had no contact with any players up there on a one-to-one basis, other than Darius Boyd, who I have spoken to on a number of occasions."
The key question is how much Souths would have to pay for Roberts and how much Brisbane would be prepared to chip in.
Souths have been linked with several players in the past fortnight.
It has been suggested they have quietly been working toward making a substantial offer for Brisbane forward Tevita Pangai Jr.
However, well-placed Souths sources deny the club is chasing Pangai, who signed a one-year extension at Brisbane and will shortly be a free agent.