Sam Burgess to play in midfield for England in place of Manu Tuilagi

Carl Markham 28/07/2015
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Breaking the code: Sam Burgess.

Cross-code convert Sam Burgess is being pushed into a midfield role by England to cover for the absence of powerhouse Manu Tuilagi, according to former wing Mark Cueto.

With final World Cup selection just over a month away, debate is still raging over the 26-year-old’s best position for the national team.

Coach Stuart Lancaster insists he will only select the former rugby league star at centre despite his best displays for club Bath coming from blindside flanker.

Cueto believes England are trying to compensate for the loss of the explosive Tuilagi, whose conviction back in May on three charges of assault cost him his place at the tournament.

“You have to argue his best form for Bath has been in the back row but Stuart Lancaster has been forthright in saying he is looking at him as a centre – but maybe his form for Bath at centre hasn’t been good enough to warrant an international place,” the recently-retired Sale Sharks stalwart Cueto said.

“Manu Tuilagi was a real linebreaker and physical presence in that back line and maybe if Sam isn’t the man we don’t really have anyone else of that physical ability.

“We have a lot of playmakers, whether it is a Jonathan Joseph or someone like that, but they are looking for a real, big, physical presence in that midfield and Sam would fit that down to a tee.

– RC: Wallabies coach believes side can challenge anyone
– UAE: Premiership and Gulf Top Six get revamp
– Saracens: Moore leaves for Abu Dhabi rivals
– RC: All Blacks come back to beat South Africa 27-20

“That is probably the reason they are pushing him there, as well as his ability with handling and passing. “It is a tough decision. The guy has only been in rugby union six months and it is a massive ask.

“You could argue this World Cup has probably come six months too early for him. There are no doubts about his credentials as a rugby player but it is just with those fine adjustments from league to union he could probably do with another six months under his belt.

“If he can get up to speed quick enough he would be a fantastic player for that team and I am sure that is why Stuart and the guys are looking to push him too much. Whether it is too much we will see.”

Lancaster’s other major selection decision comes at fly-half, where Owen Farrell’s serious knee injury ruled him out of the Six Nations and allowed George Ford to stake a claim for a World Cup starting spot.

Cueto, speaking at a World Cup trophy tour event yesterday, admits the pair are hard to separate.

“Fly-half is a real headache because they are very different in the way they play,” he added.

“Owen is very defence-orientated; he is aggressive, strong in tackles and if there is a penalty in the dying seconds he is your man to take it.

“George is more of an attacking fly-half who looks to get the backline into the game a little bit more.

“In terms of tournament rugby, Owen is your man from a consistency point of view and knocking the three points over. If I am going purely on a results point of view I am going with Owen but at the moment, purely on the back of Six Nations, it is probably 51-49 to George at the minute.”

Recommended

Most popular

Related Sections

Meyer confident of Springbok's RWC chances despite back-to-back defeats

Sport360 staff 27/07/2015
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Heyneke Meyer.

Coach Heyneke Meyer believes South Africa can beat anyone at the World Cup despite suffering a second successive Rugby Championship loss.

Richie McCaw caught the Springboks napping at a line-out to score a late try and give New Zealand a come-from-behind 27-20 victory before a sell-out 63,000 Ellis Park crowd in Johannesburg.

Defeat for the Springboks came one week after they conceded an even later try to fall 24-20 against Australia in Brisbane.

South Africa host Argentina on August 8 in their final southern hemisphere championship fixture and play a Test in Buenos Aires a week later before the mid-September World Cup kick-off in England.

Meyer, lacking several likely first-choices because of injuries, exuded confidence even though his side suffered a sixth defeat in seven matches against the All Blacks.

“The mental strength and attitude of the squad bodes well for the World Cup,” he said.

– Practice makes perfect for All Blacks star McCaw
– Wallabies coach backs side to beat anyone
– UAE Premiership & Gulf Top Six get revamp
– Moore swaps Saracens for Abu Dhabi rivals Quins

“The guys know they can beat anyone. We came within inches of beating the All Blacks and the Wallabies.

“I know we are inches away from clicking after producing some brilliant attacking play at times. We are progressing well and it will be a very fit and strong squad of 31 that travels to England during September.”

Meyer said injuries disrupted his plans against world champions New Zealand.

“I had to use the bench much earlier than we wanted because of injuries to Jannie du Plessis, Vincent Koch, Lood de Jager and Francois Louw. Both our starting tighthead prop (Du Plessis) and his replacement (Koch) had to go off at times when we were scrumming well,” he said.

Most popular

Related Sections

Practice makes perfect for All Blacks’ inspirational skipper Richie McCaw

Sport360 staff 27/07/2015
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
McCaw (c) was at the heart of New Zealand's victory.

New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw joked that he pulled rank to score the try that brought a 27-20 Rugby Championship triumph over South Africa in Johannesburg.

The second most capped rugby Test player moved undetected into the scrum-half position on Saturday as the All Blacks prepared to throw to a lineout a few metres from the Springboks line. And hours of practie ahead of the southern hemisphere championship showdown were rewarded as McCaw darted forward to grab the Codie Taylor throw, found space and dived over.

“I had to pull rank,” McCaw said yesterday.

“When we practised the move during the week there was a debate as to whether I or a half-back would execute it. I am pretty relieved that it worked out,” added the flanker who will equal the 141-cap world record of retired Ireland star Brian O’Driscoll by playing against the Wallabies in Sydney.

Coach Steve Hansen lauded the manoeuvre that earned world champions New Zealand a sixth victory in the past seven clashes with greatest rivals South Africa.

“We practised it throughout the week,” he said. “It was just a variation of an old move and was good enough to bring us a victory.”

– RC: Wallabies coach believes side can challenge anyone
– UAE: Premiership and Gulf Top Six get revamp
– Saracens: Moore leaves for Abu Dhabi rivals
– RC: All Blacks come back to beat South Africa 27-20

The try was converted by impressive debutant fly-half Lima Sopoaga, who completed the scoring with a last-minute penalty.

It was the second consecutive weekend in which the Springboks, ranked second in the world behind the All Blacks, surrendered a lead at the death. They led Australia by 13 points only to be beaten by a try after the full-time siren sounded.

Hansen said heroic mid-second-half defending by his team when reduced to 14 men after the yellow-carding of lock Sam Whitelock for professional fouls was a key factor.

“We displayed lots of courage. Had South Africa increased their lead then, it would have been very difficult to come back.”

Lock Brodie Retallick played the full game despite an ankle injury, and Hansen added: “I salute his mental and physical toughness for getting through the game.”

Most popular

Related Sections