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Latest rugby union news

Latest rugby union news

Latest rugby union news

Sam Burgess will start England's critical World Cup group clash with Wales at Twickenham, placing him on a collision course with Jamie Roberts in a battle between two giant inside centres. Here Press Association analyses the rivals' strengths and weaknesses.


Club: Bath

Position: Inside centre, outside centre, blindside flanker.

Age: 26

Height: 6ft 5ins

Weight: 17st 11lbs

Caps: 3

Test starts: 1

Debut: v France, August 2015

Tries: 0

International honours: None.

Strengths: Enormous power and perfect timing in the tackle, effective ball carrier, ability to off-load in the tackle, acts as a decoy runner by drawing in defenders through his physical presence, leadership, courage, self-belief.

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Weaknesses: Inexperienced in union having played only 112 minutes of Test rugby and still learning the complexities of the game, doubts over his best position - Bath view him as a blindside flanker, strays out of position in defence, no kicking game.

What his coach (Stuart Lancaster) said: " 'It's a big game for him. He's more than capable of playing at this level. He's not got the international rugby union experience, but he's got the big game experience. My confidence has grown on the back of what he's done, the way he's come on and contributed off the bench."


Club: Harlequins.

Position: Inside centre.

Age: 28

Height: 6'4''

Weight: 17 stones 6 lbs

Caps: 73 (including three for the British and Irish Lions).

Test starts: 70 (including three for the Lions).

Debut: v Scotland 2008

Tries: 10 (including one for the Lions).

International honours: 2008, 2012 Grand Slams, 2013 RBS 6 Nations title, player of the series on 2009 Lions tour to South Africa, part of triumphant 2013 Lions tour to Australia.

Strengths: Vastly experienced centre and lynchpin of Warren Gatland's 'Warrenball' game plan, battering ram of a ball carrier, Wales' defensive captain, consistency of performance, presence, courage, leadership.

Weaknesses: Limited kicking game, very strong in his role but has failed to develop into a more complete player along the line of the All Blacks' Ma'a Nonu, prone to injury due to seeking out contact, though his recent record has been better.

What his coach (Warren Gatland) said: " 'Sam (Burgess) is similar in size and stature to Jamie Roberts, and Brad Barritt is very experienced and a great defender. They believe that's the right selection. At the moment, I wouldn't mind the same dilemma to have that quality of choice, as they have some quality players."

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