Some of the Premiership’s most effective uncapped midfield players – Elliot Daly of Wasps, Exeter’s Sam Hill – may not feel particularly joyous at England’s decision to fast-track the cross-code convert Sam Burgess into the England training squad, but they will at least be spared the sight of the Bath player making an international debut against France on Saturday.
The head coach Stuart Lancaster insisted on Monday that Burgess had been included in the party merely as part of a “continuing education process” and said there was no prospect of him challenging for a place in the final Six Nations fixture of the campaign.
Instead, Lancaster will think long and hard about promoting two Leicester forwards, the hooker Tom Youngs and the lock Geoff Parling, into the starting line-up after their high-energy contributions off the bench against Scotland three days ago. “I can’t insulate the players against news from the other matches on Saturday – there will be 80,000 at Twickenham telling them the results – but I need to make sure they focus on the right things,” the coach said. “The thing that burns in my mind is that France were the one side to beat us in last year’s tournament.”
Meanwhile, the sorry saga of London Welsh’s embarrassingly inadequate Premiership campaign continued on Monday when the Exiles announced that Justin Burnell, their head coach, had left the club. Rowland Phillips, the former Wales flanker who also won honours in rugby league, will run the show for the remainder of the season.
Also near the bottom of the Premiership, Newcastle announced last night that director of rugby Dean Richards has signed a new three-year contract.
Richards joined Newcastle in 2012 and led the Falcons to promotion back to the top flight in his first season.Reuse content