Burgess backed after England debut

Date published: August 17 2015

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England head coach Stuart Lancaster was measured in his praise for Sam Burgess after his first Test cap against France.

Burgess was shown a yellow card in the first half for not retreating ten metres when he stopped Morgan Parra, but finished with 13 tackles in an impressive physical performance.

The former Rugby League star finished the season strongly at flanker for Bath but deployed at inside centre was effective on both sides of the ball.

"Sam was good. He was disappointed to put himself in the bin but I thought his decision-making about when to pass and when to carry was good," Lancaster told reporters.

"He delivered on his defensive physicalty which we hoped he would bring and he basically translated what we've seen in training into the game, which is quite a hard thing to do on your first cap and when it's a big occasion, but I thought he did well. 

"He’s prepared to get off the line and hit people. He gives us balance in midfield and runs good lines, but there’s also a lot of competition."

England outscored France by three tries to one, including a flowing team move off the top of the lineout rounded off by Anthony Watson for his second score.

Issues with the penalty count and set-piece in the second half will give England something to work on ahead of travelling to Paris.

"We're delighted to get the win. It was a bit edgy towards the end but to score three tries against what is a pretty good French team was pleasing," added Lancaster.

"We fronted up well in the first 20 but the two sin-binnings cost us and put us under pressure so we need to look at that, including the penalty count overall. Quite a few boys though acquitted themselves well."

Lancaster added that no instant calls would be made on selection with two more warm-up matches to go and with his final squad to be submitted by August 31.

He was however noticeably pleased with the work of Burgess and fellow new cap Henry Slade, along with England's try scorers out on the wings.

"I’m not in a hurry to make any decisions. I've got a lot of good guys sat on the sidelines for this game. The key is to get selection right next week. Experience tells me that the answers will come in the next two weeks.

"I was delighted with the two centres and in the first half we had some good set-piece ball.

"Anthony [Watson] and Jonny [May] have been excellent in training and it was nice to see them deliver that in a game. They were both sharp and took their tries well.

"It’s exciting to have young players like [Slade] coming through. They’re all so young and it was nice to see Henry take his opportunity."

Further good news for England was that tighthead prop Kieran Brookes did not suffer a fracture to his hand and that Ben Morgan came through his first game since January with no issues, going off as planned at half-time with Lancaster confirming that Billy Vunipola would start in a week's time.

by Ben Coles

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