Phoebe Burgess carried her ex-husband's two beautiful children, his last name, and the weight of his demanding football career. But like many women who've been in relationships with disgraced Australian sporting stars, she's also been left to shoulder the burden of his misdeeds.
The journalist-turned-influencer's former spouse, Sam Burgess, was one of the NRL's golden boys until a string of questionable and criminal behaviour spelled an end to his career and his marriage.
It began in 2018, when the South Sydney Rabbitohs star was accused of exposing himself to a female fan while on a video call. He was ultimately cleared of misconduct by the club and the NRL Integrity Unit.
He was then revealed to have had a weeks-long affair with a Melbourne woman while captaining England in the Rugby League World Cup in 2017.
Come 2020, he faced court on an intimidation charge after a heated verbal confrontation with Phoebe's father, Mitch Hooke, a year prior. He was initially found guilty, but the conviction was overturned on appeal after a judge concluded it was "the word of Burgess against the word of Hooke" and the burden of proof had not been met.
In May, he was convicted of driving with cocaine in his system after being pulled over on his way to visit his children in the NSW Southern Highlands. He was sentenced to a nine-month good behaviour bond and a traffic offenders program.
In spite of all these transgressions, today, Sam is well and truly on the path to public redemption. During a recent stint on Channel 7 reality show SAS Australia, he was given a platform to demonstrate tearful remorse for his behaviour.
"The last 18 months, I felt like a loser. My marriage broke down. I’d just retired from sport. My ex-father-in-law had taken an AVO against me... Two days after I retired, I separated my marriage," he said on the program.
"I don't think I was the greatest husband at times. I embarrassed my wife."
Phoebe Burgess, meanwhile, watched on with incredulity.
Phoebe Burgess was photographed by Hugh Stewart for the cover of the Weekend Australian Magazine. We caught up with Phoebe during the shoot to ask why she’s agreed to speak now - and she has a powerful message for women.— The Australian (@australian) October 15, 2021
Read the story here: https://t.co/xpumNvlXwx pic.twitter.com/YLOu14Gf71
She chose to give an interview to The Weekend Australian Magazine, which was released on Saturday, in order to share her version of events. She detailed concerning allegations about Sam's conduct, about a culture within the NRL that suggests women are disposable, and about the code's efforts to keep it all under wraps.
But she also painted a familiar picture of the punishment she received as his partner and how the public turned on her.