Burgess or Bust
There are many words and phrases that describe Sam Burgess. Read any article about him and you will likely find him referred to as a ‘beast’ or a ‘man mountain’, or any other numerous ways of trying to get across what a unique physical specimen and gifted rugby player he is.
One phrase that does not describe Burgess, though, is one of the best centres in England.
Stuart Lancaster would appear to disagree. In his most recent cull of players from the England world cup squad the England boss choose to keep the rugby league convert in the squad whilst getting rid of his club mate Kyle Eastmond, one of the most dynamic, explosive and exciting players in English rugby.
This might be slightly more understandable were Burgess being viewed by Lancaster as a blind-side, but, as the selection for tomorrow’s warm-up match against France shows, that is not the case. It is not just that Eastmond starts over Burgess for Bath in the premiership (where it is likely Burgess will play 6 from now on)but is apparently seen by Lancaster as the worse choice for England that makes so little sense, but that getting rid of Eastmond destroys the potential for England to play an all Bath 10,12,13 pairing in Ford, Eastmond, and Joseph – potentially providing England with the ability to turn to some much needed consistency and understanding in the centre of the field. And, to be honest, I just love to watch Eastmond play – his own rugby league background underpinning his skill set that suits England’s style of playing two play makers.
It’s not the only dodgy decision Lancaster has made in regard to his potential centre pairings, though. Billy Twevletrees has also been retained over Eastmond despite his, at best, wildly inconsistent performances in an England shirt. His perennial place in the England squad has led many, including the Eggchasers podcast to the seemingly only possible conclusion that Twevletrees must be blackmailing Lancaster with a piece of information that would bring English, if not World Rugby, to its knees…
However, Lancaster’s decisions have been made. Tomorrow’s game against France will either be the vindication or the downfall of his unwavering belief in Burgess as ready to take up the mantle that few players have managed to cement in the last few years. While we are all rooting for the big man to shine, tomorrow is…