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Mike Tindall: Burgess is the right man for England, just in the wrong position

28 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Mike Tindall: Burgess is the right man for England, just in the wrong position

In his first exclusive column, the World Cup winner and Betway ambassador says the former rugby league star should be a utility player

Personally if I were Stuart Lancaster, I would have selected Sam Burgess in my squad – just not as a centre.

I do think that he has that X-factor and they are clearly impressed by his presence, his aura and his leadership values that you can see when he plays on the field.

He is a great player and a great physical specimen – but it is the finer details of playing as centre where perhaps he is a bit lacking.

I played alongside Andy Farrell in the centres when he came into the England team, but trying to compare the two is like chalk and cheese.

In his last few years in rugby league, Andy played in the backs so he was accustomed to playing that role.

Burgess on the other hand has always played as a forward so his in-built mechanism is to run straight into people rather than trying to beat someone.

We have yet to see his offload be used and he tends to get caught at first and second defender rather than staying out on the edges and protecting the wingers inside.tindall farrellThere is going to be a lot of pressure on Burgess but you also have to remember that he has been there and done it in terms of high-level sport. You cannot write him off, because he has got the ability to change a game. 

Centre play is about partnerships and understanding who is around you, so it is odd that they have not stuck with a pairing that has served them pretty well during the last two years.

First and foremost, they have got to figure out their first-choice two and how they are going to try and play.

Whichever combination starts against Fiji will be a brand new partnership. They may have trained together but training and playing together are two completely different things.

It is a particularly strange situation given that Stuart Lancaster seemed to be determined to have two ball players who could help out the fly-half whereas now he just seems to want to have a carrier at 12. 

Perhaps that means that they are going to play a more pragmatic game – we will have to wait and see.

The crucial thing is that the forwards get back to creating that platform – something they have been very good at during the last two years but was missing in France.

If England can get that balance right between keeping the ball in front of the forwards and playing with their heads up then the back line can really shine.

Jonathan Joseph was explosive during the Six Nations and really stole the limelight, Jonny May looks in great shape and the try Anthony Watson scored against France at Twickenham was something quite spectacular.watson tryThey can all have a massive impact.

My only slight concern is if we are 10 points down and have got 15 minutes to come back, who in the squad is going to come on and change a game? 

Danny Cipriani might have done that. I have not always been his greatest fan but over the last two years he has grafted well, been a good team player for Sale and impressed in New Zealand.

It seems to me that the coaching staff were already pretty sure of the 31 that they were going to go with.

However, those that have now been selected will all be relieved that they made it and can stop worrying about there being any more cuts.

No matter how settled or established you are, when it comes to the naming of a World Cup squad you always worry that the coaches might have seen something in other players – you would not be a professional player if you didn’t. 

Now they can get down to focusing on putting in a better performance against Ireland and then head into the Fiji game knowing that they have got to win and win well. 

READ: Alex Spink: time for Scotland to summon their Warrior spirit against Italy

READ: End of an era for O’Connell as Ireland look to close the book on World Cup disappointment

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