Tom Burgess South Sydney, COVID-19, Jason Demetriou on Latrell Mitchell bonding trip

Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou has revealed how the club was forced to ditch its pre-season plans last week after Tom Burgess tested positive for COVID-19.

Several South Sydney players had set up tents on superstar Latrell Mitchell’s property in Taree when the news of Burgess’ positive test for coronavirus reached the playing group.

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Mitchell, along with his coach Demetriou, had been planning a camping and bonding trip, which was targeted for the new faces at the club before players were forced to return home.

After having returned to Sydney following a trip in Byron Bay, the 29-year-old prop had carpooled with several teammates to the club’s Redfern headquarters, where it was planned that several mini buses would take players out to Mitchell’s property on the NSW mid-north coast.

But prior to departure, Burgess, after noticing a tickle in his throat, visited a local Woolworths to purchase a testing kit which returned a negative result. He later underwent a second test which then returned a positive result.

“We got up to Taree and were only there a few hours when [chief operating officer] Brock Schaefer and [football manager] Mark Ellison got a message from Tom saying he had come back positive,” Demetriou told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We got back on the buses and were home just after midnight on Friday.

“We didn’t want the boys to be a risk to their families, especially at Christmas time. And we were also mindful about Latrell’s family and the people of Taree.

“Latrell was looking forward to us all staying, but he was OK.

“It was a place we could get away to and camp, but also a place that was special for one of our players. It was a great opportunity to not only see another side of Latrell most of us don’t see, but also for our younger players to see what your career can provide you if you do the right things [with your money].”

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