Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Bath expect Sam Burgess back next week and say he is staying in rugby union

Published 29/10/2015

Bath insist Sam Burgess will stay in rugby union, but reports state he is considering his future
Bath insist Sam Burgess will stay in rugby union, but reports state he is considering his future

Sam Burgess' rugby future could start to become clearer next week when he resumes training with Aviva Premiership club Bath.

England World Cup centre Burgess, who has two years left on his contract with Bath, has taken a break in Spain.

Reports, though, have stated that a return to rugby league side South Sydney Rabbitohs is under serious consideration.

A Bath spokesperson told Press Association Sport on Thursday: " Sam Burgess is just starting the second year of a three-year contract with Bath Rugby.

"W e gave him time off after he returned from the World Cup, as we will all England players, and he will be back in training on Monday."

Bath head coach Mike Ford, meanwhile, admits that Burgess "didn't quite feel right" after the World Cup, but is convinced he will remain a rugby union player.

The 26-year-old was a controversial selection for England's World Cup squad and his presence is understood to have been a divisive issue among players due to his lack of union experience.

"Last week, Sam came back into training because initially that's what he wanted, but then he did and he didn't quite feel right," Ford told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We decided to give him time off there and then, which means that he's gone away to get refreshed and will be back in training on November 2.

"There are no dramas here. Everyone has put two and two together, seen him sitting next to (England rugby league coach) Steve McNamara watching his brother play rugby league."

When asked if he was 100 per cent certain that Burgess would stay at Bath, Ford said: "Yes. I've spoken to Sam many times. We've talked about him coming back to Bath, rolling up his sleeves up and playing six (blindside flanker) for us."

England were determined to take Burgess to the World Cup, dropping the more established Northampton centre Luther Burrell to make room for a player who they felt offered leadership and big-game experience, albeit in a different code.

Burgess was defensively solid but otherwise underwhelming on his debut against World Cup warm-up opponents France in August, yet had done enough to be chosen ahead of Burrell. The management repeatedly stated his selection was based on the strength of his performances in training.

Other than a strong final-quarter cameo off the bench against a tiring Fiji in the World Cup opener, he was unable to make an impression on the World Cup as England crashed out in the pool stage.

He was the subject of a brutal assessment from former Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy, who wrote in an Irish Times column that Burgess' "naivety embarrassed those around him" and labelled him "a league convert who doesn't know how to play inside centre".

Adding to the opposition over his presence at the tournament after serving only a 10-month union apprenticeship was England's decision to use him at number 12 when he had played his best rugby for Bath at flanker, culminating in last season's Premiership final.

Ford insists his union future lies in the number six jersey only.

"Sam's got a three-year contract, there are two more years left on that and this is the time when he becomes a better rugby union player," Ford said.

"Everything we've spoken about is the future, about playing well for Bath and playing in the (European) Champions Cup.

"And then potentially getting him playing for England in the Six Nations at six and if not, then on the end of season tour to Australia.

"The plan is for him to come back to training on Monday, and we can't wait to have him back."

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph