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Farrell backs debutant Burgess

Andy Farrell insists Sam Burgess is ready for his Test debut as the cross-code convert targets the performance against France at Twickenham that will secure him a place in England's World Cup squad.

Burgess wins his first cap in union just 10 months after leaving league and has been selected at inside centre alongside Henry Slade despite producing his best rugby for Bath last season as a blindside flanker.

With head coach Stuart Lancaster indicating at the start of the week that Burgess and Slade are highly unlikely to both feature among the final 31 destined for England 2015, Saturday's warm-up fixture has become a shoot-out for selection between the team-mates.

Farrell, who was also an international in both codes of the sport, has played down the significance of the match in the first of two Tests against Six Nations rivals France, but is expecting Burgess to shine.

"What makes me believe Sam is ready is that I have seen the fact he has got himself to the situation he is at now," backs coach Farrell said.

"He's in a squad of 38 players and that means he has done the work required to get himself a chance to play in the first warm-up game.

"You'd like to think there's a big game in him. We hope he's part of a good team performance and that's the main focus of all the lads.

"Everyone would like to put this out as a trial match and a do-or-die situation for some players, but we don't see it like that.

"They've been together for seven or eight weeks now and they're concerned about performing and doing their job for the team and that's what I expect of Sam as well."


From Belfast Telegraph