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Ford: No date for Burgess arrival

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Sam Burgess, left, has been told not to rush to Bath after breaking his cheekbone in his last action for South Sydney

Sam Burgess, left, has been told not to rush to Bath after breaking his cheekbone in his last action for South Sydney

Sam Burgess, left, has been told not to rush to Bath after breaking his cheekbone in his last action for South Sydney

Bath boss Mike Ford has told Sam Burgess to stay in Sydney as long as he needs while recuperating from facial surgery.

Powerhouse centre Burgess helped South Sydney Rabbitohs to NRL Grand Final glory in the 30-6 weekend victory over Canterbury Bulldogs, playing throughout despite shattering his cheekbone and eye socket in the opening minute.

Burgess was due to arrive at Bath on October 15 to kick-start his crash-course in rugby union, but Ford confirmed he has told the 25-year-old not to rush across to the West Country.

"We don't have a new date for his arrival yet," said Bath's head coach. "There's no date yet but that's not a problem at all.

"He was always going to have a rest after five years in that brutal competition.

"He'll be very emotionally drained after that final as well.

"So we're letting him stay there after his operation, he can enjoy a bit more time with his family, enjoy the celebrations.

"I think it's important he smells the roses of what's gone on over the last five years and he's going to come over and learn the game."

Burgess' big-money Aviva Premiership switch sets the stage for him to chase selection for Rugby World Cup 2015 with Stuart Lancaster's England squad.

Ford admitted Burgess' setback, that could leave him out of action for six weeks, will allow the star signing breathing space to acclimatise to his new challenge.

Hailing Burgess' mental tenacity to play the entire Grand Final despite suffering serious injury in the opening clash, Ford said Bath's new recruit has the vital drive to succeed in his cross-code venture.

"I think it's disrespectful to the players already excelling at Bath to even think that he's going to walk into our first team," said former England defence coach Ford.

"He's got to learn the game, and he's got to get credit in the bank before he does that, before we even start talking about England.

"So it is a blessing, I think, mainly because of his body and his mind to keep him fresh, going into what will be the end part of the season which will be tough as well.

"He's tough for sure: he's been an Englishman in an Australian competition for starters, when they don't like the Pommies, especially in Rugby League.

"He's excelled as a young kid, he's only 25 now, and he went over when he was 19.

"So it's not just the physical toughness he showed at the weekend, it's probably the mental toughness too.

"He's gone over there and proven to the world he's a real good rugby player."