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Burgess: I will learn a lot

Sam Burgess says he will "learn a lot" from his full rugby union debut after he helped Bath gain a bonus point 32-12 European Champions Cup victory over Montpellier at the Recreation Ground.

Former rugby league star Burgess, whose previous two Bath appearances since his high-profile switch of codes from Australian NRL champions South Sydney Rabbitohs had been as a second-half substitute, featured at inside centre for the entire game.

He was upstaged, though, by Bath wing Matt Banahan, who scored three tries, with England fly-half George Ford kicking two penalties and three conversions and Horacio Agulla claiming the vital bonus point try two minutes from time.

"I felt okay," Burgess said. "I don't want to say disappointed, but I think there are a lot of things I can get better at, which is expected.

"I have still got plenty to work on. There are a lot of different aspects of the game that I am enjoying learning and working out. I am pleased with my first start.

"I don't quite know what I did out there, it is a bit of a blur. You are in the game from the word go, whereas previously I have been coming on when the games have been won.

"I didn't feel too bad positionally, it is more finding the right position in terms of getting on the ball, and at the breakdown I can be better at that. It is not quite instinct yet.

"I will learn a lot from tonight.

"I have been trying to ask as many questions as possible, and I have spent a lot of time with a lot of different people, players and coaches. Everyone is very willing with their time.

"I will keep working on the simple things, and the rest hopefully will naturally come."

Bath head coach Mike Ford revealed he had thought about playing Burgess for part of the game in the back-row, although circumstances in the end did not allow for it.

Burgess added: "I am just playing where Mike puts me at the moment. I am doing a bit of practice in different positions, seeing which I enjoy most, but at the moment I am just playing.

"I played a full 80 minutes at 12 tonight and enjoyed it. We thought about it (back-row) and we practised it during the week. We were thinking about rolling in for a little bit in the back-row, but didn't get the opportunity.

"We are reviewing every training session, every game, every minute I play, and that is helping me learn the game a bit quicker.

"I feel like I am improving and getting more knowledge of the game, but certainly a long way off perfect yet."

Assessing Burgess' early development in the union code, Ford said: "This game would have accelerated his learning.

"It is a couple of months away before you start seeing the real Sam Burgess, but what he has done so far has been fantastic.

"We are ready for the criticism, what he can't do and how it is too early for him. We have got our heads screwed on, and we know what we are doing.

"The plan was to put him in the back-row for the last 20 minutes tonight, and maybe if we had played better in the first-half we could have done that, but the game was too tight, so I kept him where he is.

"He will probably be on the bench against Gloucester next Saturday, and then there is an A team game after that and he will probably play the full 80 in that.

"He is on the right line, he is loving it and he is learning all the time. Let him learn the game, and we will do that by playing him."

Montpellier managed second-half touchdowns from number eight Alex Tulou and replacement prop Mickael Ivaldi, but they never remotely threatened to upset the form-book on a night that saw Bath move above Glasgow into second place in Pool Four.

"The first-half, we started well, but we could have done a lot better than 17-0," Ford added. "We missed one or two opportunities, which I was disappointed in, but we got the five points in the end.

"We are on 10 points in the pool, and if Glasgow beat Toulouse tomorrow and we are back in it. We have given ourselves a chance."


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