Russell Crowe was one of Sam Burgess' closest allies but a report claims their relationship is strained in the wake of explosive allegations.
Russell Crowe's relationship with Sam Burgess is not what it once was, according to a report.
The South Sydney co-owner was tight with Burgess for years after luring the former rugby league star from the north of England to Australia in 2010 to play for his beloved Rabbitohs.
Crowe was close with the Brit and his family, and the pair's emotional embrace after the Bunnies won the 2014 premiership is one of league's most iconic images.
But their bond appears to have weakened as the Sydney Morning Herald's Danny Weidler reports "communication between the pair has been limited during the past six months", with some sources claiming it is now "non-existent".
The revelation comes in the wake of Burgess standing down from his media commitments with Fox Sports and as a development coach at Souths after explosive allegations of violence and substance abuse were levelled against him in a report by The Australian last week.
Burgess, through his legal representation, has vigorously denied the accusations.
The 31-year-old did not appear in Moss Vale Local Court during the week as he fights an accusation he intimidated his father-in-law Mitchell Hooke last year. However, his lawyer claimed the footy player's estranged wife Phoebe and her dad were acting out of "malice or retaliation" by orchestrating the allegations.
Crowe may be dragged into the scandal because of his role as Rabbitohs co-owner, with suggestions the Hollywood icon may have to front the NRL Integrity Unit to answer questions.
"I think we'll see it go right to the top at South Sydney in terms of Russell Crowe — I reckon he will have to go in and answer questions from the Integrity Unit," Fox Sports chief NRL reporter James Hooper said on NRL 360 on Monday.
Crowe has been a close ally of Burgess' over the years. The retired footy star has previously spent time at Crowe's Nana Glen home near Coffs Harbour, including when his relationship with Phoebe was on the rocks.
The NRL Integrity Unit and NSW Police have launched investigations after The Australian published the allegations against Burgess.
Souths coach Wayne Bennett has said repeatedly since the story broke it would not distract his players' in their quest for a premiership — and he's been right so far.
The Rabbitohs will face Penrith in next weekend's preliminary final for a spot in the decider after beating the Eels 38-24 on Saturday night.
That result comes after Souths blew Newcastle off the park 46-20 in week one of the finals.