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Attwood heaps praise on Burgess

England lock Dave Attwood has hailed Sam Burgess as "an ultimate professional" and a player who would benefit from being in and around the national set-up.

Press Association Sport understands that former rugby league star Burgess is on course to feature for England Saxons when they tackle the Irish Wolfhounds in Cork on January 30.

Altough he is currently just six weeks into his competitive rugby union career, it is thought Burgess could start in midfield alongside Exeter's Henry Slade when the Saxons head to Ireland.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is due to name his senior squad and Saxons group in 10 days' time, and it is understood that 26-year-old Burgess will be involved in some capacity.

He produced the best performance of hid fledgling union career when Aviva Premiership title contenders Bath saw off Wasps 39-26 on Saturday, scoring his first senior try for the club, making some strong contributions in attack and defence, and being named man of the match.

"I think if they are looking at him in that respect, he is the kind of player who will benefit from that (England) environment," Burgess' Bath team-mate Attwood said.

"I would love to see him get involved, but I think let's walk before we can run. A few more man-of-the matches would be great.

"We don't want to just get him involved and playing well, and then lose him to England, so the longer we can keep him here for now, the better.

"He is a massive specimen, really physical, and he's got a really varied skill-set. He adds a very different dimension to what we can do in the midfield.

"It's great to have him playing. Every game, he is growing in stature and bringing more and more of his kind of game to the party, which is ultimately what we want.

"We want more of Sam Burgess out there, and the sooner he learns the game, he is going to be flying along and carrying us forward."

Burgess has so far been involved in seven first-team games for Bath - either starting or featuring off the bench - and Attwood underlined how much of an impact he has made since he arrived at the Recreation Ground following a glittering league career.

"For someone who people argue doesn't know the rules of the game, man of the match in almost a 40-point win, we are not struggling too much," Attwood added.

"I don't think the transition is a skill one for him, I think it is just kind of positional.

"He has got some of the best players in English rugby at the minute around him, helping him move forward and helping him get to grips with things.

"He has picked it up very quickly. He is a very talented bloke, and if I am honest, everything I have seen of him I would expect nothing less.

"He is a very experienced player, he is a leader and he is the right kind of person to bring into this environment. We need as many of those kind of people as we can get.

"He adds to a wealth of leaders that we have got in the team.

"He is an ultimate professional, he is in great shape, he looks after himself, he helps drives standards and move people forward off the field as well as on it."

For his part, Burgess said he was delighted to "get the monkey off the back" after scoring his first Bath try, touching down early in the second-half as Bath moved a point behind Premiership leaders Northampton.

"It was good," Burgess said. "I am kind of glad to get the monkey off the back.

"I was happy to get over for the try. George (Ford) found me with a great pass, and I managed to slide over.

"I am improving week to week, and enjoying a bit more time on the field. Overall, I am happy with the way things are going, and there are things to work on, as always.

"I am used to the pressure. I came from quite a high-pressure environment in Australia, and I am learning the game week by week, but pressure is fine. I kind of knew that would be the case.

"It's pressure in a game that I don't really know as well as the one I have come from, but all the time I am confident that I will learn."


From Belfast Telegraph