Phoebe Burgess accuses the press and NRL PR machine of a ‘smear campaign’

Former rugby league Phoebe Burgess has come out swinging against the Australian press and the NRL‘s ‘PR machine’ after her ex-husband Sam Burgess was cleared of domestic violence and drug allegations.

On Thursday, she endorsed an opinion piece by women’s website Mamamia – which has long been a champion of Phoebe amid her messy divorce from Sam – that argued there was a ‘smear campaign’ going on to discredit her.

The article was published after the journalist-turned-influencer, 32, made bombshell revelations about her marriage to the former Rabbitohs player, 32, in an interview with The Weekend Australian Magazine last week – only for NSW Police to drop its year-long investigation into Sam just days later. 

Former rugby league Phoebe Burgess (pictured on the school run in the NSW Southern Highlands on Thursday) has come out swinging against the press and the NRL’s ‘PR machine’ after her ex-husband Sam Burgess was cleared of domestic violence and drug allegations

The police investigation had been launched 12 months earlier following similar allegations published in The Australian newspaper in October 2020.

After the case was closed without any charges being laid, Mamamia published its lengthy op-ed by executive editor Jessie Stephens titled ‘The smear campaign against Phoebe Burgess has begun’.

Phoebe reshared it twice on her Instagram Stories on Thursday evening, and clearly agreed with its analysis of the situation. 

The article argued that stories would be appearing in the media ‘over the next few weeks’ portraying Phoebe as ‘a liar, self-interested, a hypocrite, an unreliable witness, a woman scorned [and] a “fame whore”.’

Ms Stephens claimed this was proof of what Phoebe had alleged in her Weekend Australian interview – namely that the NRL has a team of spin doctors hired to cover up players’ bad behaviour and discredit their accusers.

The article even cited a story by Daily Mail Australia about a newly discovered and unpublished article Phoebe had written downplaying her then-husband’s alleged involvement in an ‘sexting’ incident in 2018. 

Sam, then one of the NRL’s biggest stars, was embroiled in the scandal when his Facebook account was used for a series of video chats between South Sydney players and a 23-year-old woman.

Leaked screenshots featured one unidentified player exposing his genitalia and another showing his naked backside during video calls in May 2018, which were revealed four months later.

The woman claimed to have been ‘violated and disgusted’ by the players’ actions. Sam was later cleared of any wrongdoing after an NRL investigation.

Phoebe’s article was originally supposed to be published by an online news website, but instead it was only shared with family, friends and others.

In it, she wrote that the woman at the centre of the scandal, whom she named, was a ‘fangirl’ who was equally to blame for the encounter, and alleged she had flashed her breasts at the players in ‘a game of mutual group peek-a-boo.

She also explained how she’d come to understand NRL players had ‘an overly relaxed attitude that comes with their penises – and a**e cracks.’ 

Phoebe said had learned from her time around rugby league that a player answering his phone in public to ‘have a d**k pop up’ on a video chat was ‘pretty normal’.

‘Penis tapping’ and a player spinning his genitals like a helicopter’s blades were both ‘common practice as a sign of friendship and camaraderie’, she wrote.

‘And I’ve learnt that flopping one’s d**k out is more about the humour of a reaction than an invitation to engage in phone sex or a rampid [sic] extramarital affair.

‘I’ve seen more flaccid penises being thrown around on consensual, friendship group chats than I have my own body parts.’

Phoebe’s laidback attitude to such sexting was at odds with her recent championing of women who have been exposed to grubby behaviour by NRL players.

In a series of recent interviews and social media posts, she alleges professional rugby league creates a toxic environment for susceptible young men and that the NRL ‘PR machine’ enables a culture of disrespecting women.

Phoebe has accused Sam of engaging in wild partying and ‘screaming rages’ during their marriage, claiming he was protected from public scrutiny by senior NRL and club figures.

Sam has denied ever being violent towards Phoebe but admitted in the last season of SAS Australia to cheating on her in 2017 and to abusing alcohol and drugs.

‘I don’t think I was the greatest husband at times,’ he said tearfully. ‘I embarrassed my wife. I’d had an affair with a girl, a woman in Melbourne.’

Phoebe has described Sam’s redemption story as portrayed on the hit Channel Seven program as ‘a careful edit, a carefully curated comeback show’.

Sam and Phoebe, who are parents to daughter Poppy, four, and son Billy, two, have gone through a long and messy divorce.

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