Belfast Telegraph

Sam Burgess given chance to shine from the off

By Andrew Baldock

Sam Burgess will make his full debut for Bath tonight accompanied by a ringing endorsement from the Aviva Premiership club's coaching staff.

Former rugby league star Burgess features at inside centre against Recreation Ground visitors Montpellier in the European Champions Cup.

Burgess' previous two Bath appearances were off the bench following his recovery from a fractured cheekbone injury suffered during Australia's NRL grand final in early October.

The 25-year-old will be partnered in midfield by Jonathan Joseph as Bath look to complete a quick-fire Pool Four double over Montpellier after beating them 30-5 in France six days ago.

Burgess' competitive rugby union career so far totals around 50 minutes, but he is already being touted as a contender for England in this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

A week before the Six Nations starts, England Saxons will face the Irish Wolfhounds in Cork, and it is thought Burgess is likely to make the Saxons squad for that January 30 encounter.

"Sam getting more game-time is a massive bonus for us," Bath head coach Mike Ford said. "He is going to be our enforcer.

"It's a bit disappointing that it has been raining in both games he came on in because we didn't have much chance to use him. But what he has done, he's done well so far."

And Ford's coaching colleague Toby Booth added: "The best way for Sam to learn is by getting out there. But it is not just about Sam, it is about what is best for Bath.

"We know that he will bring physicality, and that's good for us."

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