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No code switch regrets for Burgess

Sam Burgess has had "no second thoughts" on chasing his World Cup dream despite finding it difficult to let go of his rugby league past.

The Bath centre believes he faces his "biggest challenge yet" in his code switch on his England Saxons debut against Ireland Wolfhounds on Friday night.

The 26-year-old revealed his former South Sydney Rabbitohs team-mates have been teasing him over his decision to leave league - but claimed union is a far more physical sport than he ever realised.

Burgess' World Cup fast-tracking will reach new heights in Cork on Friday, with England boss Stuart Lancaster able to gauge his Test potential.

The rampaging line-breaker himself believes any chances of a senior call for the RBS 6 Nations remain "premature" however.

"The boys are calling me, giving me some stick, let me tell you that," said Burgess.

"I'm certainly focused on giving it my all at union.

"You have to let go of what you've been doing before, even though it is hard to let go.

"I'm still in touch with all my friends that I played with for the last five years in Australia.

"We played against Leicester and a stat must have come up on the TV that I made 15 metres in the whole game or something.

"You'd try to make that in one carry in league, so the boys were giving me stick saying that I'm getting lazy.

"That's just general footy banter, so I'll take it all in my stride.

"But I'm going to give it my all, I've not thought about going back.

"I'm certainly giving the game everything I've got, so I've had no second thoughts.

"I just wanted a test and a challenge, and I guess this will be the biggest challenge yet."

Burgess has won his first England call despite less than four months in union, as senior boss Lancaster eyes a rapid elevation for the former league sensation.

The ex-Bradford Bulls battering ram has made no secret of struggling to adapt to union's nuances, conceding that rugby league's general perception of the rival code needs revising.

"It's definitely harder than I thought," he said.

"The perception of union from the league side is that it's a bit easier than league; that you don't have to be as fit as you do in league.

"That's a pretty strong view, and you don't really understand what union's like until you come and play the game and realise how intense union is in certain aspects.

"The game's a lot tougher than I think it's viewed from the outside.

"Personally I've got a lot more respect for the guys in different roles on the field.

"It's an unbelievable skill what people have got in this game."

England boss Lancaster believes it would be a "big, big ask" for Burgess to feature in the Six Nations, even though the former Leeds coach still has Burgess in wider World Cup contention.

Burgess admitted he cannot do anything other than reject all the hype.

"I think it's a bit premature," said Burgess of his Six Nations chances.

"A lot of people are asking me things that are happening down the track that I obviously can't control.

"I've just got to take it week by week, it's a mentality I've used all last year, just to play it game by game.

"And that's what I'm going to do this year too.

"I've got to work hard at preparing myself both mentally and physically, then try to perform at the weekend - but then I'll start that again on the following Monday.

"So I'm not going to look too far ahead and get too caught up in what's going on outside the group.

"This is a hell of a chance on Friday though, I'm really thankful to be given the opportunity to play and represent my country again."


From Belfast Telegraph