SBW backs Burgess to succeed

Date published: December 5 2014

All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams believes fellow code-hopper Sam Burgess will succeed in rugby and feels he should play in the backline.

After helping the South Sydney Rabbitohs to win the NRL title in October, Burgess switched to the 15-man code and made his debut for Bath in the Aviva Premiership as a backline replacement against Harlequins last weekend.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has hinted that Burgess could play for the Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds in Cork in January, and if he does well at that level there could be pressure to get him involved for England during the Six Nations in February.

Bath have indicated that they plan to play him at inside centre and as a blindside flanker, so that he can find his best position.

Williams, who like Burgess played as a forward in the 13-man code, is confident the 25-year-old Englishman will make a successful transition to his new code.

“From an England perspective I’m pretty sure he’ll go well,” Williams told New Zealand’s Radio Sport.

“It’s a matter of time – how long it will take to pick up – because he’s a world-class athlete. I’ve got no doubt he will, but it’s just a matter of how long.

“I think leading into the World Cup it’ll be good for him, for his peace of mind, to nail down what role they want him to [have] and I think it’s in that backline at first.”