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RUGBY: Bath signing Burgess 'suited to centre role'
5:23pm Tuesday 18th February 2014 in Sport
SAM Burgess would be best suited to a role in the centres in rugby union, according to former dual-code international and England coach Andy Farrell.
England will not interfere in Bath's plans for the big-money import from South Sydney Rabbitohs though, Farrell pledged.
Wigan great Farrell swapped league for union in 2005, joining Saracens before winning 21 caps with England.
Despite a near-unrivalled league pedigree, Farrell struggled to settle into one specific role in union, flitting between back row and midfield.
England star Burgess will leave his league status behind when he joins Aviva Premiership club Bath in October, the west country club having bankrolled a £500,000 transfer fee.
Bath will wait until Burgess settles in at the Recreation Ground before choosing a position for the line-breaking 25-year-old.
Farrell believes a slot in the centres would be the perfect place for the former Bradford man to start though.
"I don't suppose it's for me or (England head coach) Stuart (Lancaster), it's for his club really," said Farrell of the already lively debate on what position Burgess will assume.
"What normally happens is a player gets used to the game and it becomes clear and obvious to himself where he thinks he's going to make the most impact.
"The modern-day coach and player has to work in tandem, otherwise what's the point unless you can get the best out of the player?
"It will become clear and obvious once Sam settles in."
Asked which position would offer the easiest transition from league to union, Farrell said: "There's absolutely no doubt it, it will be in the centres.
"And it would be more suited to his style of play. He's a great line runner and a great guy to get you over the gainline.
"He has a great offloading game. His defence is strong. In rugby league how he's been coached will sit very comfortably in wider open spaces.
"He has been coached well and he thinks he can transfer that to the union game."
Rumours of Burgess' transfer surfaced among suggestions the Rugby Football Union would part-finance his move from the Australian National Rugby League (NRL).
Bath have since assumed full responsibility for the deal, with Burgess already targeting a place in England's squad for the 2015 World Cup.
Farrell believes Burgess will face a race against time to acclimatise to the new code and then break into Lancaster's England squad to take part in the World Cup on home soil.
"It will be difficult for him in the timeline," said Farrell.
"Stuart commented on Monday that it's not just about the here and now in terms of when he arrives in October, it's about him being serious about his future in rugby union.
"For him to commit to a three-year plan and to want to see the big things that happen in the game, like a tour to Australia or a Lions tour, that's what excites him as well.
"Knowing the competitor that he is, he'll want to be all guns blazing and wanting to make the step up as quickly as he possibly can, but I suppose we'll judge that as we move on.
"He's got to earn the right to get in. Sam is fully aware of that. Everyone has to earn the right and the only way you do that is by proving yourself with your club form.
"We're trying to make this place as difficult as possible for competition for places.
"You'd hope that Sam will add to that."
MIKE FORD ON BATH'S CAPTURE OF BURGESS, PLUS MORE BUILD-UP TO BATH'S AVIVA PREMIERSHIP CLASH WITH WASPS ON SATURDAY AT WILTSHRIETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT AND IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES