Callard praises centre Burgess

Date published: January 31 2015

England Saxons coach Jon Callard defended the performance of centre Sam Burgess after a difficult debut on the international scene in Cork.

The Saxons won 18-9 against the Irish Wolfhounds, with Burgess wearing the white jersey for the first time since moving to union from rugby league.

It was a fairly quiet debut for the 26-year-old as players such as Henry Slade, Chris Pennell and Dave Ewers stood out in the away victory, but Callard found positives to take from the centre’s unselfish showing at Irish Independent Park.

“Sam has had a great week for us, but unfortunately didn’t have the ball on the front foot and probably tried to force a couple of things,” Callard said.

“He made a lovely little break and offload, which is what his strength is, but we just couldn’t get him into the game at set-piece.

“But he was influential on the shape we had in attack. He pulled defenders out with his running, which created space out wide.

“What he did with the ball in hand wasn’t there to see, but he did a lot of good stuff without the ball.

“Sam has only had a session and a half in the England set up, but he created space for others and that’s what the game is about.”