Few people make the cross code switch, moving from rugby league to union. Even fewer become a success. After the purchase of Sam Burgess from South Sydney, Bath are left with a difficult decision to make. Where do they play him?
Time is of the essence as the 2015 Rugby World Cup is right around the corner. Representing England in the World Cup is a serious possibility as England had a major say and effect on Sammy’s decision to switch codes. England are looking for a solid 12, someone who doesn’t cause any confusion, someone who’s going to be one of the first players on the team list. Billy Twelvetrees has handled the position so far, and did well in the recent Six Nations. However, he’s not that star centre they want and need if they’re to be a threat in the next World Cup.
Exactly what England don’t need
Recently it has been suggested Bath are looking to play him in the backrow, at number 8. This is exactly what England don’t need, with two capable and good number 8’s in Vunipola and Morgan. Not to mention the other great backrow options England has. Wood and Robshaw had a good Six Nations. This may suit Bath though. So how much of a say does England have on the decision? Will Burgess have any say himself?
I think with a player like Burgess, standing at 1.96m and weighing 120 kilos, and the experience he has in league, it would be a sin not to play him at 12. He could be a type of Sonny Bill Williams, and we all know what he did to rugby. He’s a direct runner, clearly after playing league. Give him the experience and time and he could be an amazing solid inside centre.
If the time was available, it would make sense to play him in the backrow. This sticks him in the heart of the game, and the laws would start coming naturally. However, with the lack of time and — dare I say it — desperation of England, he needs to be put into a position where he can make a difference. I don’t believe he lacks the skill to play in the position, he just needs the experience.
The 2014-15 season is going to be a hell of a gamble for club and player. But don’t tell me the idea of Burgess and Tuilagi as England’s centre pairing doesn’t turn you on!
Image: Wikimedia Commons