England settle on Burgess at centre

Date published: July 17 2015

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Sam Burgess will be used as a centre by England if selected for the World Cup, according to Stuart Lancaster.

The cross-code star only began playing union in November, initially starting at inside centre.

His transition didn't come easily, and it was only when he moved to the back-row that he seemed to find his feet.

However England have always been keen to use him in midfield rather than at flanker, and Lancaster explained that with Manu Tuilagi out, he wants to test Burgess in the backs.

"We're into the rugby stuff now and I had a long conversation with Sam about his position. For two reasons we see him as a centre," the head coach said.

"In the back-row we need our sixes to be effective in the line-out and there are some big players in our line-out calling structure.

"Tom Wood, for example, is the third most thrown to forward when he's played and James Haskell we've also used quite a lot. Tom Croft is nearing fitness now as well.

"We've lost (hooker) Dylan Hartley and with him some experience when the line-out is a big part for us. It would be a real stretch for Sam to be competitive in that position.

"Also, Bath have used him as a forward but his effectiveness has been in the middle of the defensive line and as someone who takes the ball to the line as a carrying threat.

"Without Manu in the backline, we need options that give us physicality. We're confident from what we've seen that he'd be capable of competing at centre.

"Centre is where he's been running with us and that's where we'll see him training right until the final 31 are selected.

"But it's a competitive position when you see the options we have in the position."

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