Back row, not centre, for Burgess?

Date published: October 30 2014

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Cross-code signing Sam Burgess has been tipped to transform England’s midfield, but his Union career could start in the back row.

Cross-code signing Sam Burgess has been tipped to transform England’s midfield, but his Union career could start in the back row.

Burgess was pictured at his grand unveiling at The Rec on Thursday in a Bath shirt featuring the ‘Dyson – on a ball’ sponsor logo, worn by the club’s back row players.

Starting the 25-year-old off in the forwards would appear to be a more challenging baptism into the sport.

Bath though are currently short in that department thanks to a number of injuries, including Springbok flanker Francois Louw, will welcome the impact Burgess can bring.

Head coach Mike Ford recently told the BBC that Louw will play a key role as Burgess learns the finer arts of the breakdown.

“If I am quite honest, I don’t know where I am best suited. Over time, I think that will become clear,” Burgess told Press Association Sport.

“Nothing is set in stone, and there is no pressure on myself from Mike (Bath head coach Mike Ford) to do anything. I am just going to get in there, knuckle down and do my best.

“It (England selection) is something I have no control over. There are always going to be outside influences that have their opinion. That’s part of the game, part of the sport and part of the challenge to ignore what is going on.

“In rugby league in Australia you are scrutinised in fine detail, so I have learnt a lot in five years over there. Hopefully, I can bring that here with me into my new career at Bath.

“Sometimes the greatest challenge of all is beating the outside noise, and once you find the key to that then it is quite easy.

“I am most looking forward to playing at the Recreation Ground. That’s the first thing I want to tick off – to run out, play for Bath and give it my all.”

Burgess is still some way off making his playing debut for the club after fracturing his cheekbone in the NRL Grand Final triumph for his old side the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

“Everyone is asking, but I really don’t know [when I’ll play]. We will play it by ear.

“I have had quite a lot of work done in my face and the surgeon said to me ‘don’t be silly’. We will make a smart decision over time with the medical staff here at Bath.”

Tipped as a late addition to England’s plans for the Rugby World Cup, Burgess is short on time and experience in the sport but possesses remarkable physicality and a strong skill set with the ball in hand.

His every move will be scrutinised, with greatness expected.

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