Placed on report: England forward Sam Burgess. Photo: Getty Images
Sam Burgess may have played his final game of the World Cup after hitting Australian back-rower Sam Thaiday in the head with a swinging arm in England's 28-20 loss.
Burgess was placed on report midway through the second half for a tackle which left Thaiday dazed. The Brisbane captain didn't return to the field and Australian coach Tim Sheens said Thaiday was "stung" by the tackle.
Under the World Cup rules, Burgess won't find out until midday on Monday (11pm AEDT) if he will be charged. A potential judiciary hearing would happen on Tuesday night.
Australia opens World Cup with win over England
Greg Inglis of Australia passes to Johnathan Thurston to set up a try. Photo: Getty Images
All players start the tournament with a clean record, meaning loading and carry-over points from the NRL do not exist. Players will be suspended for games rather than be given points like they do in the NRL.
With upcoming games against Ireland and Fiji, England could manage without their best forward for the next fortnight, but anything more than a two-game suspension would be a cruel blow, particularly after back-rower Gareth Hock was expelled from the squad last week.
England coach Steve McNamara said he expected the incident to be reviewed.
Burgess was solid in his return to the UK but was overshadowed by younger brother George who scored a try in a damaging performance. George started the game, making his Test debut alongside twin brother Thomas who had minimal impact from the interchange bench.
Australia fullback Billy Slater said he wasn't surprised by George's performance.
"He does that at NRL level all the time," Slater said. "He is a strong guy and is playing some great footy.
“He doesn't have the natural footballing ball skills that Sam has but he has got that determination and is willing to work hard. It's a credit to [South Sydney coach] Michael Maguire for turning him into a great footballer.
Only prop Chris Hill (113 metres) made more ground than George (110m) with the ball for England and the South Sydney forward could have had a rare try-scoring double only to fumble the ball over the try line after carrying three Australian defenders with him.
McNamara praised George's first outing in English colours.
“He was very good, very very good,” McNamara said. “[He was a] handful for the opposition."
England are on a semi-final collision course with New Zealand because of the loss. McNamara was left “frustrated” by his team's performance.
“We started the game superbly and defended our try line pretty well. We gifted a lot of possession and we gave a lot of penalties away. We sat there wondering what could have been and what should have been.”