South Sydney forward George Burgess is facing the prospect of missing the start of the NRL season after being charged with an alleged eye gouge during England’s second Test victory over New Zealand.
Burgess has been summoned to appear before a disciplinary hearing over an incident that left Kiwi fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak requiring treatment to his eye.
The incident, which occurred 20 minutes from the end of England's 20-14 victory, went unpunished by referee Gerard Sutton and Watene-Zelezniak brushed off the clash in his post-match interviews.
However, the Rugby Football League announced on Monday that New Zealand had cited the incident and referred Burgess to a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday evening.
A statement said: "The Match Review Panel appointed by the Rugby Football League for the series determined that the incident merits a Grade D charge of behaviour contrary to the true spirit of the game."
Watene-Zelezniak said he needed eye drops to keep playing, but didn’t believe Burgess internationally tried to hurt him.
"I felt a finger go in my eye but that's football," Watene-Zelezniak said. "I have no idea [if it was an eye gouge] I'll have to watch it back. He's a big boy with some big fingers so his hand on my face probably covers it all.
"I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose. He and his brothers are good guys and have done really good things in the game. I don't think that's in their kit bag.
"I'm sweet now. I'm sure it was accidental. It was a bit blurry but whatever the doctor gave me helped a lot. It's international football, I'm an adult so I can take those things. What I can't take is a loss."
A grade D offence normally carries a suspension of three to five matches, which puts Burgess' place in the side for Sunday's third Test at Elland Road under threat.
A ban of more than one match would be carried over into the 2019 NRL season.
The case will be heard by a three-man panel, including one representative each from England and New Zealand.
Burgess was recalled by England from a two-year absence against France last month and he has also played in both games of the current series against the Kiwis.
England coach Wayne Bennett said, despite wrapping up the series with a game to spare, he would be loathe to make any changes for the third Test, although he will have to find a replacement for hooker Daryl Clark after he broke a rib at Anfield.