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Bennett happy Sam Burgess escaped NRL ban

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5 days ago Laine Clark

Not only is Wayne Bennett pleased Sam Burgess is free to play his Brisbane side on Friday night at ANZ Stadium, he can't wait to catch up with the South Sydney enforcer.

In a relief for the battling Rabbitohs, Burgess will line up against the Broncos after beating a shoulder charge ban this week at the judiciary.

Burgess had faced a two-week suspension for his hit on Canterbury's Greg Eastwood but was acquitted after the judiciary panel took half-an-hour to decide.

Burgess' presence will boost 11th-placed Souths' prospects of snapping Brisbane's two-game streak and a chance to break into the top four.

But Bennett had no problem with Burgess being available, saying he wasn't surprised the England forward escaped suspension.

"Not really, but the shoulder charge is a contentious issue - they all see it differently," Bennett said.

"Whether he got found guilty or not guilty, it's the process that I think is 100 per cent right - it's fair.

"He went to the hearing and got a great result.

"I know Sam would be happy with that and I am happy for Sam."

Bennett reckons he will be even happier when he catches up with Burgess ahead of England's May 6 Test against Samoa at Campbelltown.

Bennett has juggled the England coaching reins with Brisbane duties since last year.

"We go into camp in two weeks. I am looking forward to seeing Sam and the players," Bennett said.

"Sam is an outstanding bloke. I have a huge amount of time for him.

"He leads from the front. He doesn't do all the talking - he's not fancy with his words but he is with his actions."

Bennett usually gets his man in the recruitment stakes as last week's signing of Cronulla star Jack Bird again shows.

But the Brisbane coach said Cody Walker was the one who managed to get away, with the Rabbitohs' pivot lining up on Friday against Brisbane.

"He's a wonderful player. He would have fit in good here but he has made his choice," Bennett said.

"And he's playing wonderful for them. He's a danger player."

The Rabbitohs will also be on high alert with ex-Gold Coast flyer David Mead was called up for injured Brisbane winger Jordan Kahu (groin).

Mead will line up for his 150th NRL game, keen to repeat his impressive Broncos debut a fortnight ago in their 32-8 win over the Sydney Roosters.

"You always miss your great players but we have a capable replacement - he played great for us two weeks ago," Bennett said of Mead.

Joe Ofahengaue returns to the Broncos' interchange, replacing fellow forward Tevita Pangai Junior (finger, three months).

It is Ofahengaue's first game for Brisbane since round 21 last year.

"He had to go back (to reserves) and appreciate what playing the NRL really means," Bennett said of Ofahengaue.

RABBITOHS V BRONCOS:

* Brisbane have won nine of 13 games against the Rabbitohs in Sydney

* South Sydney have lost all three matches at ANZ Stadium this season, winning just four of 14 at the venue since 2016

* Souths have scored the equal second least tries per game (2.9)

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