Sam Burgess happy to fight for England centre spot

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live
Sam Burgess says changing positions is 'not difficult'

Sam Burgess says he has no concerns about training at centre for England, despite moving to the back-row at Bath.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has confirmed Burgess is only being considered in the midfield for a place in his 31-man World Cup squad.

But the 26-year-old says he is determined to make an impression wherever he is asked to play.

"For me, I follow my coaches' orders, and I do it to the best of my ability," Burgess told BBC Sport.

"Stuart has asked me to play there, and I will do my best job for him."

Rugby league convert Burgess started his union career at inside-centre for Bath, before moving onto the flank towards the end of the domestic season.

The former Bradford Bulls forward says moving back to centre in the training camp hasn't been a problem.

Sam Burgess
Sam Burgess featured at blindside flanker when Bath lost to Saracens in the Premiership final in May

"It's not been really difficult at all," he added. "Teams play in different ways. Stuart wants me to play at 12 here, so I guess I have got to give it my best shot.

"There is a lot of competition in the position, so [making the final squad] is a tough ask, but it's been great learning from all those guys daily as well."

Lancaster's decision to view Burgess solely as a centre has been criticised by some, including World Cup winner Matt Dawson, but the England boss believes it is the only realistic option.

"Everyone's entitled to their opinion, I can't control what people think," said Lancaster. "Just to clarify, I didn't guarantee him a centre position in the team.

"What I said was we were going to consider him as a centre. And the main reason for that was that if he is going to stand a chance of being in the World Cup squad, he has a better chance as a centre than as a back-rower.

"We have very good back-rowers and the lineout is a key part of our game, and Sam by his own admission is still learning the mechanics of the lineout.

"We want to give him the opportunity to try and make the World Cup as a centre. It's to be decided whether he is going to be good enough or not. But we are a long way from deciding that, and there are [warm-up] games to come that will help us to formulate that decision."

England's upcoming fixtures
15 August France (Twickenham)Warm-up
22 AugustFrance (Stade de France)Warm-up
5 SeptemberIreland (Twickenham)Warm-up
18 SeptemberFiji (Twickenham)World Cup Pool A
26 SeptemberWales (Twickenham)World Cup Pool A
3 OctoberAustralia (Twickenham)World Cup Pool A
10 OctoberUruguay (Etihad Stadium)World Cup Pool A

Lancaster will give Burgess an opportunity to impress in one of England's pre-tournament internationals, but insists he is under no pressure to select him for the World Cup despite the high-profile nature of his switch from rugby league.

"I said to him at the time he was going to have to work hard to catch up and he's got to be better than the guys we've got," Lancaster added.

"What I would say is that he has been exceptional in training. On the bits that you look for - in terms of carrying the ball, getting across the gainline, lines of running, defence, attitude, physicality - he definitely ticks a lot of those boxes.

"But there are no guarantees for him or anyone, and nor should there be."

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