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Farrell tells Burgess to be himself

Published 14/08/2015

Sam Burgess will make his England debut on Saturday
Sam Burgess will make his England debut on Saturday

England backs coach Andy Farrell will send fellow cross-code international Sam Burgess into battle against France at Twickenham with orders to be himself.

Burgess makes his Test debut on Saturday just 10 months after leaving league and has been asked to forge a midfield partnership with fellow debutant Henry Slade, who starts at outside centre.

The pair are duelling for one of the four midfield slots in England's World Cup squad with all eyes on Burgess to see if he can continue his meteoric - and critics state undeserved - ascension through the union ranks.

Farrell insists the powerful 26-year-old Yorkshireman is ready to surprise those who view him as one-dimensional.

"Sam can only be himself. He's obviously a big strong lad who can do some damage but there's more subtlety in his game than just being a battering ram," Farrell said.

"He runs his lines, he's got good footwork and he's got some skill to back that up, like you would expect from an international centre. The players in our squad are able to play the game in most ways.

"Sam has kept the column inches going. He is obviously a hot topic, but in camp, you wouldn't know that there is any hype around him as a player under a lot of pressure.

"He's just one of the lads, one of the lads who wants to perform well for his team-mates. Because he has been in a lot of situations like this, he will handle it very well."

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