OPINION: The one thing Sam Burgess got right
THERE'S one thing Sam Burgess got right in his recent press conference.
The so-called "sexting scandal" he's facing is unbearably distressing for his heavily pregnant wife, Phoebe Burgess.
"I'm upset for my wife and my family, it's been a tough process to go through, the family together … I'm fortunate that I've got a strong wife …
"What hurts me most is seeing my wife upset about what's out there," he told a media scrum yesterday, which had gathered to hear him speak on the matter.
And I have to say, I'm upset on her behalf. I'm sure many women are. I don't know Phoebe - I've interviewed her once - but I feel for her.
Regardless of the outcome of the NRL's investigation regarding explicit photographs sent from the NRL superstar's social media account, the scrutiny on their marriage, which is never far away for a couple that includes a high-profile footballer, must be horrendous.
From the outside it seems awful. I can only imagine what it's like to have that speculation occur within a relationship. Being "strong" in the face of it, particularly while pregnant, would be a challenge for anyone.
When I interviewed Phoebe for Stellar in 2016, she was pregnant with the couple's first child after their wedding in late 2015. She was glowing.
She spoke of the pressures of pregnancy - a time when many women feel vulnerable and self conscious - when paparazzi are tailing your every move. Even something as pleasant as having an ice cream on the beach was considered fair game, which Phoebe initially found upsetting.
"The first images that came out of my baby bump were of me sitting there on the beach smashing a Bubble O'Bill [ice-cream]. Boobs on bump, legs wide open and it wasn't flattering. I went home and I felt humiliated," she said in the interview.
But at that time, she was able to take refuge in her home life, and get perspective.
"I spoke to my family and Sam and we all laughed about it," she added.
There can be little doubt that the media glare has once again turned in her direction, all while Phoebe is pregnant with a second baby.
And with the allegations facing her husband - that two players indecently exposed themselves to a woman without consent via Burgess' social media account - home may not be the same haven of calm as it was when intrusion was limited to paparazzi photographs. The allegations, and the explicit photos sent from Sam Burgess' verified social media account, would be like chucking a hand grenade in any marriage.
In Sam's own words, spoken at the media conference yesterday, the allegations have not just affected him.
"I just want to protect my family over this whole thing, I've got a daughter and my wife's heavily pregnant, I want them to be safe and happy," he said.
The pressures of the situation on Phoebe already seem evident, given her withdrawal from a recent public appearance at a racing event, where she had been scheduled to appear as a brand ambassador. She's also chosen not to watch her husband play in recent Rabbitohs games. A close friend was quoted as saying Phoebe was taking these measures to protect herself.
"Phoebe is heavily pregnant, there is no way she could have put herself in that situation.
"The stress would have been all too much."
And with another baby due in December, it's a stress that you wouldn't wish on anyone, especially not a pregnant woman.
While Sam Burgess has said he's "happy for the truth to come out" he was also hopeful the investigation would be "resolved quickly."
And I'm sure that for Phoebe, a conclusion to this sorry scandal can't come soon enough.
Victoria Hannaford is a writer and producer for RendezView.