Burgess gives Lancaster RWC headache

2015-08-16 22:31
Sam Burgess (Getty)

London - England coach Stuart Lancaster hailed debut centres Sam Burgess and Henry Slade after they inspired England to a hard-fought 19-14 victory over France in their Rugby World Cup warm-up at Twickenham on Saturday.

But the pair may well have given the coach an even bigger headache with the World Cup in mind as the process of selecting his final squad begins to get serious.

Former rugby league man Burgess certainly took no prisoners with his hits, tackling, field coverage and overall aggressive play during the match which saw Bath wing Anthony Watson grab a brace of first-half tries.

Exeter youngster Slade was also as impressive, displaying the kind of ball-handling and controlled skills which certainly made him an instant hero with the home fans who gave him a resounding ovation as he left the field in the second half.

Both players are said to be fighting for one place with Brad Barritt, Jonathan Joseph and Luther Burrell looking cast iron choices for the final squad.

And both are now hoping to get another last chance to push their claims in the return match against France in Paris next Saturday.

"I was pleased with both Slade and Burgess. Sam's first time at this level and he did well," said Lancaster.

"It was disappointing for him to put himself in the sin-bin but his physicality was excellent. He is prepared to get off the line and hit people.

"It is a competitive position with guys really keen to get the edge on the other. There is plenty to ponder in terms of whether either will be involved in Paris, we shall see.

Lancaster added: "I am not in a rush to make any selection decisions for the World Cup. It's important to get them right for Paris and we'll do what is necessary."

The coach also hailed wing Jonny May who grabbed England's third try in the second half.

"Anthony Watson took his tries very well and both wings looked sharp and really up for it," he said.

Burgess was sin-binned for deliberately obstructing France scrumhalf Morgan Parra but that was the only blot on his debut.

The impressive Watson certainly took his tries well while May also finished off a rapid England attack.

France relied on Parra's boot to keep them in the game and were guilty of not making the most of their pressure and chances.

Flank Fulgence Ouedraogo grabbed the visitors' only try and Lancaster insisted: "We didn't finish the game off the way we'd have liked but there were lots of positives.

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre was disappointed that his side suffered another defeat at Twickenham, though this one was much closer than the 55-35 loss in last March's Six Nations affair.

"England have some quick players and every time we made a mistake they punished us. They are a good team but it will be a different game next week," he said.

"If you do not make the most of your try scoring chances in international rugby you will get nothing from a game. But we must be more clinical and decisive when it matters most in the return game in Paris.

"There were some positives and some good things but it will be important to go into the World Cup with a win. Hopefully, we can get that against England next time."

Read more on:    england  |  rwc 2015  |  sam burgess  |  rugby

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