Burgess’ future in union at back row, says Bath
BATH, England (AP) — Sam Burgess’ long-term future in rugby union could be in the back row, even though he made a low-key debut in the 15-man code as an inside center.
The rugby league convert played 17 minutes as a substitute for Bath in its 25-6 win over Harlequins in an English league match on Friday. It was his first action since playing for Australian side South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL Grand Final on Oct. 5.
Burgess was limited to two big carries against Harlequins, which appears to have cemented Bath coach Mike Ford’s view that Burgess could be a “barnstorming back row.”
“Personally, I think that will suit Sam personally more,” Ford said. “It’s a gut feeling of mine as he’s a guy who carries and tackles a lot and I don’t want to stick him out in the center to do nothing.”
Burgess will continue playing at center in the early stages of his union career before getting a run in the forwards, with a call-up by England for next year’s World Cup the target.
“I think everyone’s got an eye on the World Cup,” Burgess said. “I’m not going to be naive and dismiss it, but it would be stupid to waste energy looking at that.
“I’m using all my energy to focusing on training here with the guys, knuckling down and working hard with my teammates at Bath.”
Burgess said he was a “little bit nervous” when he came on at the Recreation Ground.
“I haven’t felt that for a while,” Burgess said, “but I enjoyed the feeling and the adrenalin and once you get on the field you just enjoy the game.
“It’s certainly not an overnight transition and the worst thing we could do is rush it. It was always going to be hard but I’ve really enjoyed it and everyone’s been open to teaching me things.”