Sam Burgess's Bath and England hopes backed by Stuart Lancaster

Sam Burgess and Mike Ford

Sam Burgess's "mental toughness" can lead him to success for Bath and England in rugby union, says England head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Burgess, 25, completed his move across codes on Thursday after four years in Australia's National Rugby League.

Lancaster said he was "very excited" to have Burgess in contention for a place in England's 2015 World Cup squad.

"He's got the ability as a player, but also as a leader. I think he's got great mental strength." Lancaster said.

Burgess, 25, played on after breaking a cheekbone for South Sydney Rabbitohs in the opening minute of their 30-6 win over Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL grand final.

Stuart Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster says he is "very excited" by Sam Burgess's arrival

And Lancaster says Burgess's man-of-the-match performance in that game in particular shows he can quickly to adapt to the 15-a-side game.

"It's a great signing for Bath, and hopefully for us further down the line," Lancaster said.

"He's got a lot to do in terms of learning the intricacies of rugby union. But if there's a man that can do it I think he can.

"What he put himself through in the final - his mindset to deliver and pay back the faith that the Rabbitohs had shown in him - set him apart really.

Former England captain Martin Corry on Radio 5 Live
"The time-frame does scare me. Can someone be fast-tracked so quickly? It is going to be difficult if [Burgess] wants to play at 12 for England. Stuart Lancaster has come out to the press and said that he wants to have a ball-playing 12. This is why Billy Twelvetrees fitted into the role so well.
"You need to be able to call the moves, act as a distributor and have the kicking game. He's certainly got the hit-up game and the ball carrying game, but if he doesn't have the distribution it will be very hard to hide from."

"But he's in a competitive position and he'll have to earn the right to get into our [England] team. But if he gets in our squad I'm sure he'll make an impact."

Burgess is still recovering from the injury he suffered in October's grand final and says he is still unsure when his Bath debut might be.

Bath head coach Mike Ford echoed Lancaster's comments, saying Burgess's mentality can take him "all the way to the top, to international rugby".

But he said he is yet to decide which position Burgess will play in for the Aviva Premiership side.

"He could play in the centres, he could play in the back row. We're not too sure at this stage," Ford said.

Mike Ford (left) with Sam Burgess
Mike Ford (left) says Bath will play to Burgess's strengths in deciding where to play him

"He's gone out to Australia and actually been the best player in the competition, and that takes some mental strength to do that.

"It's important we play him in a position that utilises his skill-set to the full potential."

Meanwhile former England captain Martin Corry says he has doubts over Burgess's credentials as a potential World Cup star for England.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live he doesn't want to get "caught up in the hype".

"Sam has to come out and prove himself," he said. "The timeframe does scare me - can someone be fast-tracked so quickly?"

Sam Burgess - From Bradford to Bath
Born: West Yorkshire, 14 December, 1988
Height: 6ft 5in
Weight: 18st 4lb
Super League debut for Bradford Bulls, 2006
Great Britain debut against New Zealand, October 2007
Signs for South Sydney Rabbitohs, September 2009
Agrees three-year deal with Premiership rugby union side Bath, February, 2014
Wins NRL Grand Final in last match for South Sydney, October 2014
Wins Clive Churchill Medal as best player in the final
First Englishman to be named International Rugby League Player of the Year, October, 2014

Top Stories