South Sydney Rabbitohs player George Burgess is seen during a media opportunity at Redfern Oval in Sydney, Monday, September 17, 2018. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
George Burgess could miss the start of South Sydney's NRL season if found guilty of an alleged eye gouge on Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in England's Test win over New Zealand.
Burgess has been charged with a Grade D contrary behaviour offence, which usually carries a ban of between three and five games.
If found guilty at the judiciary on Tuesday night in England, the prop will serve the first match of his ban in the third Test against the Kiwis.
Any other games will then be served in the opening rounds of the Rabbitohs' NRL campaign.
Any suspension would shape as a blow for Souths, who face defending-premiers Sydney Roosters in the opening round before a clash with the traditionally fast-starting St George Illawarra at Kogarah.
The Rabbitohs are already facing an uncertain start to their pre-season with speculation continuing to mount that Anthony Seibold and Wayne Bennett's coaching swap will come within weeks.
The Rabbitohs' non-representative players are due back at training next Monday with Seibold intending to continue his preparations at the club when he arrives back in the office on Wednesday.
Burgess wasn't penalised on field for the incident, where his finger appeared to come into contact with Watene-Zelezniak's eye.
The Kiwis' skipper stayed down for several seconds and sought treatment but claimed after the match he did not believe there was any malice in the incident.
"I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose," the Penrith fullback said.
"Him and his brothers are good guys and they've done really good things for the game.
"I don't think that's in their kit bag but it is what it is, you just have to deal with it.
"He's a big boy and he's got some big fingers too. I think his whole hand would probably cover my whole face."
However, the Rugby Football League announced on Monday that New Zealand cited the incident and referred Burgess to a disciplinary hearing.
"The Match Review Panel appointed by the Rugby Football League for the series determined that the incident merits a Grade D charge of behaviour contrary to the true spirit of the game," a statement said.
The case will be heard by a three-man panel, including one representative each from England and New Zealand.
© PAA 2018