Bennett defends outspoken Burgess

Wayne Bennett has come to the defence of Sam Burgess after his skipper slammed the NRL judiciary.
Wayne Bennett has come to the defence of Sam Burgess after his skipper slammed the NRL judiciary.

South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has thrown his unequivocal support behind skipper Sam Burgess after his outspoken criticism of the NRL judiciary system.

Burgess vented his frustrations after missing last week's NRL final against the Sydney Roosters because of a hair pull, likening the judiciary to a "kangaroo court".

Burgess has been summoned to NRL headquarters for a "please explain" from CEO Todd Greenberg and threatened with a fine for his comments.

But Bennett said more players should speak their mind like the Englishman.

"He's got something to say, he wants to be honest about it, he was," Bennett said ahead of Friday's semi-final against Manly.

"What do we want, do we want them all cliched and scripted?

"Because that's what we're getting at the moment, 80 per cent of the people that are interviewed are going down the party line.

"Sam's always been different and that won't change for him."

Greenberg on Wednesday said on face value Burgess' comments breached the game's code of conduct and were "offensive" to NRL judiciary chairman and Supreme Court Judge Geoff Bellew.

Burgess will return from his one-week suspension for their must-win clash against the Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium after essentially being rubbed out because of his poor disciplinary history.

The 30-year-old would have escaped with a fine for his hair pull on the Roosters' Billy Smith but was ineligible for a monetary penalty because he had already been found guilty of two charges in 2019.

When asked if Burgess had a point, Bennett said: "Yeah I do.

"I think we've all felt the frustration of it all.

"He didn't say anything we didn't know or feel. He was just brave enough to say it all."

Bennett also denied the episode had been a distraction in the lead up to their must-win clash against the Sea Eagles.

"Not us, we didn't know what he was going to say," Bennett said.

"We're not distracted by it."

Australian Associated Press