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Burgess backed to boost Bath

Sam Burgess has been selected in the back row as Bath seek to bounce back from the end of their European dream by defeating Newcastle on Friday night.

Burgess has spent the vast majority of his fledgling union career at inside or outside centre, but head coach Mike Ford will examine his credentials at blindside flanker in the Aviva Premiership showdown at Kingston Park.

The former rugby league star has struggled to make an impact in the midfield since converting to union towards the end of last year and Ford has repeatedly stated that he views the back row as the most suitable home for his explosive ball-carrying and defence.

Burgess was called into England's RBS 6 Nations squad to step-up his education in the new code, although he was never considered for selection by the Red Rose who regard him as an inside centre.

The 26-year-old's slow progress since departing the South Sydney Rabbitohs has led to speculation he may return to league, but Jason Robinson is among those who believe he can still win a place in England's World Cup squad.

Burgess' elevation to the starting XV is one of eight changes made to the team dumped out of the Champions Cup by an 18-15 quarter-final defeat to Leinster in Dublin.

South Africa flanker Francois Louw leads the side as regular skipper Stuart Hooper has a calf injury, while Semesa Rokoduguni is restored to the right wing.

Victory over Newcastle at Kingston Park would strengthen Bath's claim to home advantage in the Premiership play-offs and lift them up to second place, albeit temporarily if Saracens defeat Leicester.

Newcastle have replaced Tom Catterick with Rory Clegg as one of four changes as they seek to make inroads into the seven-point gap separating them from London Irish in 10th place.

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