Wales to ‘smash’ Burgess

Date published: September 26 2015

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Wales coach Warren Gatland has said that his side will be looking to 'smash' England centre Sam Burgess – just like they will the rest of the England side.

The two northern neighbours face off at Twickenham on Saturday in what is a crucial Pool A encounter that is likely to have significant ramifications for the loser.

Burgess' selection in the England midfield has been met with mixed reviews, and he will line up against Wales veteran Jamie Roberts, who boasts 70 cap,s and Scott Williams, who has 33 caps, while Burgess has featured in just three Tests since crossing codes from rugby league.

Much has been made of the 26-year-old since he converted to union, but Gatland has insisted that his charges will not be looking to specifically target the centre.

"We won't be trying to single out Sam Burgess at all," said Gatland.

"We will be going out there to smash him like everyone else."

While Burgess lacks experience at the highest level in rugby union, he had a distinguished career in rugby league, and Gatland believes that this will be of great use to the Bath man.

"He's got inexperience at rugby union, but not at big occasions," said Gatland.

"We're not rubbing our hands together about one player thinking there's a weakness there – that is not the way we look at it.

"When you underestimate a player, it comes back to bite you."

Burgess will be partnered in the midfield by fellow hard-man Brad Barritt, and England coach Stuart Lancaster is hopeful that the pair will provide a strong defensive presence.

"We need to have good defenders to stop Wales on the gain-line," said Lancaster.

"Sam's a good and powerful defender. But also I think he offers us a threat in attack. We don't always have to use the threat that he is. Sometimes you can bypass him.

"The game will be judged a success if we win. If we lose I will be questioned. Clearly my selection heightens it."

For his part, Burgess is tired of all the talk and is determined to prove his worth out on the park.

“My job as a player is to go out and deliver the job that he’s given me. That’s my main focus at the moment. The exterior talk and everything as a group we deal with well. As a group we move on and believe in ourselves," he said.

“I’ll just let my performance do the talking on Saturday. I don’t want to make any bold predictions. But I’ll be ready on Saturday.”

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