Sam Burgess: Bath coach Mike Ford wants England man at flanker

Sam Burgess
Sam Burgess is still to make his full England rugby union debut, having only represented the Saxons

Rugby league convert Sam Burgess will remain a blind-side flanker at club level, according to Bath boss Mike Ford, despite England saying they will only pick him at centre.

Uncapped Burgess, 26, began his Bath career at centre before moving to the back row, where he had more impact.

England coach Stuart Lancaster has said that Burgess will only be considered at centre for this autumn's World Cup.

"He's only going to play at six," Bath head coach Ford told BBC Radio Bristol.

"If he was with us in pre-season and not with England, he could learn his line-out roles better.

"I know ultimately he'll come back a better player with his experience at the World Cup, so I'm pretty chilled about it. It doesn't concern me at all. Wherever he plays, he'll contribute to the England team."

England set to trim Rugby World Cup squad
England return from their Denver training camp at the weekend, when Lancaster will trim his squad by five or six players before the first of their warm-up matches against France at Twickenham on 15 August.
The final Rugby World Cup squad of 31 must be named by 31 August.

The decision to consider Burgess only at centre has been queried by former England scrum-half Matt Dawson.

But Lancaster, currently in Colorado preparing his squad for the World Cup, which begins on 18 September, has emphasised the need for England to have experienced line-out jumpers in the forwards.

And Ford, England's defence coach under Martin Johnson at the last World Cup in 2011, says Lancaster's approach makes sense as they need specialist jumpers "who have been doing it most of their lives".

England backs coach Andy Farrell says Burgess has what it takes to play at centre, despite playing in a different position for his club.

"We picked him in our training group as a 12 so we clearly believe he can play there," Farrell said.

"He's given a very good account of himself so far this week. He's looked very comfortable in the centres.

"What you find with a good footballer with a feel for the game is that they're able to adapt and play many different positions. Sam is one of those."

Former Bradford Bulls and South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Burgess made 13 appearances for England and two for Great Britain in rugby league.

But he is yet to make his full international debut since switching to rugby union, having played only for the Saxons in January, prior to the start of the Six Nations.

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