When you think of the many different sports we are lucky enough to watch, like Golf, Football, Tennis, Swimming and Cycling who do you instantly think of? Rory McIlroy, Lionel Messi, Andy Murray, Michael Phelps, Chris Froome. These are all famous people playing the sport they love, and for Rugby in both codes one man that sums this up is Sam Burgess.
One of the most famous players ever to grace the Super League and one of Rugby League’s all-time greats, the man mountain switched codes at the beginning of this season.
Burgess went into Rugby Union to have a more prominent stage on the international front. He made his first appearance for the Lions and tears nearly came to his eyes when belting out the national anthem.
The game was not just focussed on Burgess but it also had an overall prominent feature and that involved the opponents. It was the one hundredth match between the English and the French and even though it was a friendly it was still going to be a blood bath. As Stuart Lancaster’s young charges want to impress him going into the World Cup next month.
Burgess had a glittering career in Rugby League and enjoyed spells with the Bradford Bulls and South Sydney in Australia. He also made two appearances for the Great Britain team and thirteen appearances for England.
Since moving to Rugby Union he has kept a low profile or tried to at least. Learning his trade in a different code can be tricky when your one of the biggest stars in its rival sport. He currently plays for Bath, and although it may have been difficult at first moving codes, he has certainly made a big impression for the national side.
Burgess is battling with Henry Slade for that all-important World Cup squad position. Head coach Lancaster can only pick 31 players and Burgess and Slade did their chances a power of good when they played brilliantly against the French.
England go into the World Cup with high hopes however they know for a fact it’ll be a tough journey with some excellent sides this year. With Ireland, Australia and New Zealand all looking strong, England still go into the competition as second favourites to win the Rugby Union World Cup this year.
Burgess said about his performance against France: “I was happy with how it went, the coaches seemed happy and I’ve had some lovely comments from the public. Apart from my yellow card, I couldn’t have asked for much more and there was a good atmosphere in the changing-room afterwards. The guys were pretty pumped. Four of us had won our first caps so to get off to a winning start was fantastic”.
Can Burgess make the World Cup squad and can England do well in the competition, only time will tell.