England front-rower George Burgess was today suspended for four matches after being found guilty of an eye-gouging charge against Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
The 26-year-old forward was found guilty of behaviour contrary to the true spirit of the game by an international disciplinary panel following the incident which occurred during England's win over the Kiwis in the second test in Liverpool on Monday.
The South Sydney forward was also fined £500 ($981) and the suspension will rule him out of the third test at Elland Road next Monday (NZT). The remainder of his ban will be served over the opening three rounds of the 2019 NRL season.
Burgess' suspension comes despite the incident going unpunished by referee Gerard Sutton at the time during the second-half of the match at Anfield.
Play was delayed while Watene-Zelezniak received treatment from the Kiwis medical staff with Burgess among the England defenders that tackled him to the ground.
Burgess today took to social media insisting he did not intentionally rake at Watene-Zelezniak's eyes.
"I want to make it completely clear to everyone that it was never my intention to ever gauge (sic) anyone," Burgess posted on Twitter.
"It is not in my makeup as a rugby league player and never has been. I sincerely apologise to anyone who thinks bad of me after seeing the footage."
Following the match, Watene-Zelezniak confirmed the fingers of Burgess had dug into his eye but brushed the incident off.
"I felt a finger go in my eye," Watene-Zelezniak said. "That's football. Lucky the doctor was there to give me something. It was a bit blurry after that. Whatever he gave me it helped a lot.
"That's international football. I'm a tough boy, I'm an adult, I'm a man so I can take those kinds of things but what I can't take is a loss."
The 23-year-old Penrith fullback was unsure if Burgess' act was intentional.
"I have no idea I'd have to watch the video back. He's a big boy and he's got some big fingers too. I think his whole hand would probably cover my whole face.
"I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose 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.
"I'm pretty sweet now. The doctor gave me some kind of eye drops. I'm sure it was accidental. It didn't really mess with the game much but that's football."