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Saturday Nov 29, 2014

Sam Burgess makes his rugby union debut in Bath win over Harlequins

Sam Burgess makes his rugby union debut in Bath win over Harlequins
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League convert Sam Burgess made his highly anticipated Rugby Union debut in last nights 25-6 Bath win over Harlequins at the Rec. It was a short cameo, playing at centre, but showed glimpses of what he could be capable of with ball in hand.

Just seven weeks ago he was playing rugby league, winning the NRL Grand Final after breaking his cheekbone in the first minute. Now he’s a rugby union player, and one that has the whole of England, and indeed fans around the world, watching on closely.

His debut came in quite bizarre circumstances, as Harlequins were down to just 12 players after referee Wayne Barnes brandished three yellow cards. It was also raining so the conditions weren’t ideal, but post match he had a smile ear to ear, seemingly loving every minute of it.

“I’ve been mixing it up in training but I think I’ll stay at centre for now, certainly over the next few games,” said the 25-year-old when asked about what position he’ll likely play in.

“But we’ve got a lot of time. It’s certainly not an overnight transition and the worst thing we could do is rush it. It was always going to be hard but I’ve really enjoyed it and everyone’s been open to teaching me things.

“The game’s tough to learn and I was sat on the bench a little bit nervous. I haven’t felt that for a while but I enjoyed the feeling and the adrenalin and once you get on the field you just enjoy the game,” said the former league star who was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal a few weeks back.

He came on in the midfield last night, but Bath coach Mike Ford wants to try him in the forwards.

“The two carries he had were very, very good. He needs to get out there and play and when the pressure’s on that will accelerate his learning,” Ford said.

“There’s a plan there and Sam’s first few games are going to come at 12, but when it’s dry we’re going to have a look at him in the back row as well. Personally, I think that will suit Sam personally more.

“It’s a gut feeling of mine as he’s a guy who carries and tackles a lot and I don’t want to stick him out in the centre to do nothing. That’s not his skill set. Can we get him over the gain line with six, seven or eight on his back? Of course we can and the next month or so we’ll know where he is.

“My vision is for Sam to be a barnstorming back row and we’ll see how it unfolds, it’ll be a good journey,” Ford, whose son George starts for England at flyhalf today, added.

It’s been debated before, but after seeing a bit of him in action and hearing what both he and coach Ford have to say, where do you think Burgess would be best suited?

17 Comments

  • flanker2712
    12:55 PM 02/12/2014

    I may be wrong, but I don't think there is room any longer (if there ever was) in a top level international test match for a "free spirit" on the wing! As an Irishman, I'll be happy to see more offloads like the one around the 1:50 mark in the video! Joking aside, I wish him all the best.

    Reply
  • danknapp
    8:35 AM 02/12/2014

    I'm guilty as anyone of buying into the hype, but I'm with Colombes, who as usual has made a very sensible point. Only time will tell if Sam Burgess can cut it at the top level of Union. It's a sobering point but one well worth paying attention to.

    Reply
  • eddie-g
    10:18 PM 01/12/2014

    There's two questions really - which would be his best position, and how quickly do England want him ready to play there? With unlimited time, I agree he looks a backrow forward, probably a ball-carrying 8 would be his best position. With a shortened timeframe (i.e. 2015 World Cup in mind), the question is whether he'll need longer to learn the tactical elements and ability to read the game that go with being a 12, or longer to learn all the new fetching/rucking/mauling/set-piece skills that go with being a looseforward. It would be a huge achievement for him to be world cup ready in either position, I guess we'll soon see how he gets on. Needs time on the field trather than eg. training with England, but one of the big things going for him is that Bath have a good record on converting League stars... good luck to him, seems like a top lad.

    Reply
  • mattyj
    8:00 PM 01/12/2014

    SB will play how he always has played, and once the rest of the team understand him better he'll be enabling them for try after try running off his shoulder for the offload once he draws in the two or three defenders to be stopped! It would be interesting to put him at wing and give him a free ride see where he wants to be and what to do, guarantee he'd go looking for it all over!

    Reply
  • mattyj
    7:58 PM 01/12/2014

    SB will play how he always has played, and once the rest of the team understand him better he'll be enabling them for try after try running off his shoulder for the offload once he draws in the two or three defenders to be stopped! It would be interesting to put him at wing and give him a free ride see where he wants to be and what to do, guarantee he'd go looking for it all over!

    Reply
  • colombes
    1:16 PM 01/12/2014

    I clearly don't get the hype around this guy. Just let him time, and we'll see if he will follow the likes of SBW or..... Vainikolo

    Reply
  • danknapp
    8:41 AM 01/12/2014

    I can't agree more with your final paragraph. Farrell should have been dropped before then. Virtually every player dropped by Lancaster has done well from the experience because they know that they have to drop X, Y or Z to get a starting place back. Farrell should have been told to go away and to focus on getting a backline attacking more.

    Reply
  • drg
    1:50 PM 30/11/2014

    I personally don't like all the hype surrounding Burgess... He's a young guy who will be joining a large squad, the squad will be whittled down to 15 players at any given time and unless all those other players are firing Burgess will become another 'nobody'. I can see it now, he gets a starting spot, England as a whole play a bit s**t, Burgess plays 'ok' but not great and then the whole nation gets deflated and throws him on the scrap heap. There is a lot of talk on here about SBW, NZ appear to do extremely well without him, he's one player, but he's not THE player. I think there is too much hype being landed on Burgess and too much unfair expectation. Remember Ashton; regardless of your opinions on his attitude, he is/was a good player, ran hard, found gaps etc, but the second he gets a bit of a trademark "'ash splash' always scoring tries" kind of thing going on, it becomes expected... "What?! He played and he didn't score a try? useless, get rid of him"... Admittedly he was not playing well in a few aspects of his game, but the constant attention can't have helped. Read a very interesting article on England on BBC, it mentions that sometimes selections are a bit 'unfair', one extract about how a misfiring Farrell potentially screwed up someone elses international career: "Kyle Eastmond was thrown in at inside centre against the best two sides in the world when Farrell inside him was struggling to keep his head above water. When his Bath team-mate Ford came in, he was gone from the squad." http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/30264033

    Reply
  • drg
    1:14 PM 30/11/2014

    Could have done some damage had it connected: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktG2aOEwNgk

    Reply
  • 12:43 AM 30/11/2014

    Yeah I'd have to say we will wait a long time to see him develop as a 12 whereas at 8 or 6, he'll be close to the play and get the opportunity to get plenty of ball. Or you can play him at 12 and give him freedom to get the ball off the 9 whenever he chooses and eventually when is appropriate. By all accounts he is very focussed and determined to succeed. Defense is where he will find 12 challenging. There is rarely the room in the midfield that regularly is opened up in midfield. I think he'd have a hard time in the open field against an international level centre.

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    11:58 PM 29/11/2014

    A few years ago the Union vs League bouts drew a decent crowd. King Carlos did the job for the fly halves in one of the dirtiest fights i've seen in a ring, and Quade Cooper has some decent hands too. The big lads let both sides down though, more wrestling than boxing! I've heard Brian O'Driscoll can 'chuck the knucks' very well too (much better than Austin Healey anyway). i'd pay even seriouser money to see him put them in their place. They are exceptional players, professionals and 'role models within sport', but they aren't quite legends yet. Though after the NRL final, SB is a lot closer than W.

    Reply
  • drg
    10:02 PM 29/11/2014

    I'm with reality here, it'd probably be a flailing borefest...

    Reply
  • reality
    8:00 PM 29/11/2014

    I'd pay money to see either of them go up against a half-decent boxer who isn't old or a has-been and see them get destroyed.

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    7:45 PM 29/11/2014

    I would also pay serious money to see Burgess vs SBW boxing. SBW has the 'experience', but Burgess has proved on more than one occasion he has the chin for a few digs. I've said it before. Optimus Prime vs Megatron. You choose which is which!

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    7:36 PM 29/11/2014

    Kieran Read tramline runner. That was frightening watching him take the field... dwarfs every player he says hello to, even the forwards, sent the quins back line flying! 10yds out, attacking scrum, and he is hiding behind the pack running from deep, won't be long before his first 5 pointer. I'm sure Burgess can offer something monstrous from the base of the scrum if he plays in the pack... or should that be 'summat'?

    Reply
  • 4:34 PM 29/11/2014

    I agree. He could be like Pier Spies type of 8. A fit physical beast. Shouldn't look to kick or offload. But hasn't yet got the union smarts and don't think he will ever have the type of vision or whatever to look up and play whats in front of him. Seen as his instinct, which has worked soooo well for him, has just been smashed through people. Good luck to him though.

    Reply
  • mozz87
    1:11 PM 29/11/2014

    Should be a no.8. That amount of explosive power and pace would add so much to a forward pack. As a back he wouldn't get the chances to smash it up and grind teams down like he did so well in league...

    Reply


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Sam Burgess makes his rugby union debut in Bath win over Harlequins | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos