Hollywood star Russell Crowe is reportedly providing support to South Sydney NRL icon Sam Burgess following his shock split from wife Phoebe less than a month after the two welcomed their second child into the world.
According to The Daily Telegraph Burgess, who is good friends with Crowe, headed to the actor's property in Nana Glen, near Coffs Harbour in NSW, late last month and will return this weekend.
Crowe owns the Rabbitohs and has forged a close relationship with Burgess and his family since luring the England international Down Under to play at Redfern in 2010. At times Burgess's mother has been sighted at games watching on next to Crowe.
"Russell has always looked after the Burgess boys. They're like sons to him. He isn't interested in taking sides but will do whatever he can to help Sam through what is clearly a difficult time," a source told The Daily Telegraph.
Burgess was seen leaving his and Phoebe's Maroubra home in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs during the week, carrying packed bags and not wearing his wedding ring.
The rugby league star and his partner were married three years ago but have reportedly told family and close friends their relationship is over after agreeing to end their marriage in December.
They have two kids together. Daughter Poppy is nearly two years old and on December 9 the couple celebrated the arrival of a son named William, or "Billy".
The power couple's relationship faced some challenges this year after Burgess was embroiled in controversy when he was caught in the middle of a sexting scandal. He was cleared of any wrongdoing by Souths, but Sam admitted the media attention had taken a devastating toll on his family.
Burgess was found to have done nothing wrong after the club investigated claims a woman was exposed to lewd images of Rabbitohs players on social media. In emails to the club, the 23-year-old woman claimed she felt violated in a social media interaction with players, who she claimed exposed themselves to her in a video chat.
Speaking about the allegations for the first time in September, Burgess said the media attention had taken a toll on his family.
"I'm not angry. What hurts me the most is seeing my wife upset about what's out there," he told reporters.
"I'm completely happy to be going through the process. I've been open and honest with everything. Hopefully, it's resolved quickly.
"I just want to protect my family in this whole thing.
"I've got a wife. I've got a daughter. My wife's heavily pregnant. I just want them to be safe and happy. In my current situation at home there's just no chance of that."
He also paid tribute to his wife's strength at the time.
"With respect to my wife, my family, my wife's family, it's been a tough process to go through, the family together," he said.
"I'm fortunate that I've got a strong wife. I've got a wife who loves me. I've got great family. I've got great friends. Great support around me to help me through these allegations that have been made."
Burgess and Phoebe met at an Avicii concert in January 2014 and married at her parents' property in Bowral in the NSW Southern Highlands in December 2015.
Speaking of that fateful first meeting, Phoebe told a local English newspaper, the Bath Chronicle, the pair hit it off immediately.
"Neither of us really frequent concerts but we ended up bumping into each other at an Avicii show in Sydney and chatted the whole time," she said.
"He put his number in my phone and we had our first date a few weeks later while I was in hospital with back problems."
There were eight months of secrecy before the world found out about the whirlwind romance, as the young couple made their public debut as a couple at the Dally M Awards that same year.
As recently as May 2018, Phoebe lauded her sports star husband's virtues in a tell-all interview with Stellar Magazine — in which she described him quite simply as "a good man".
"The moment he had a daughter, he had this amazing new appreciation for the other 50 per cent of the population," she said.
"He doesn't skirt his responsibilities as a father. He never takes off and goes out with the boys instead of being a dad. He always makes the right choice — which I've never bullied him to do! He's just a good man. And it's sexy."