Sam Burgess: Former League star belongs in back row, say Bath

Burgess made long-awaited debut on Friday night

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The Independent Online

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-centre.

The rugby league convert played the final 17 minutes for Bath in their 25-6 Aviva Premiership win over Harlequins on Friday night. It was his first action since playing for Australian side South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL Grand Final on 5 October.

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”.

“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 centre to do nothing.”

Burgess will continue playing at centre 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 focusing on training here with the guys, knuckling down and working hard with my team-mates at Bath.

“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.”