Greenwood urges calm over Burgess

2015-08-28 12:51
Sam Burgess (Getty)

London - Will Greenwood has told England fans not to get worked up over the inclusion of "fourth choice centre" Sam Burgess in England's World Cup squad - even though acting star Russell Crowe believes his selection is proof of the tournament hosts' desire to lift the Webb Ellis trophy.

Just 10 months ago Burgess won the Clive Churchill Medal in South Sydney Rabbitohs' NRL Grand Final victory in his last game for the club, playing most of the match with a broken cheekbone.

But while his physical courage has never been in doubt, the fact remains Burgess has played just 70 minutes of international rugby union since changing codes, with his Test debut in a 19-14 win over France at Twickenham a fortnight ago seeing him sin-binned for 10 minutes.

Nevertheless, the 26-year-old has edged out the more experienced Luther Burrell for a place among England coach Stuart Lancaster's centres even though Burgess spent much of last season playing as a back-row forward for Bath.

Finding a settled midfield partnership has been a thorny issue for England ever since World Cup-winning centre Greenwood played the last of his 55 Red Rose Tests more than a decade ago.

Indeed Lancaster has tried 12 different centre pairings in his 41 Tests in charge.

Ex-England captain Will Carling, himself a former Test centre, is among those who believe Burgess has been unfairly rushed into the World Cup squad.

But Greenwood said all those who questioned Burgess's inclusion were ignoring the point that Brad Barritt and Jonathan Joseph are set to be England's starting centres when they face Fiji in their World Cup opener at Twickenham on September 18.

"Look, it's the fourth choice centre we're talking about here," he told Sky Sports News.

"Is there a seismic difference in value that would be offered by Burrell and Burgess? Of course not; you're never going to be all things to all men and if the call went the other way then we'd be saying Burgess was the unlucky one."

Meanwhile, Bath coach Mike Ford, whose son George is in line to be England's starting flyhalf, was in no doubt that Burgess's skills would outweigh the fact he had been deployed as a flank by the west country club.

"What Sam did for South Sydney last year he did for Bath rugby last year, that's key for us and key for England," Ford told BBC Radio.

"Sam Burgess does what he does and he's done it all his life. If that continues to be the case he can only add to the England rugby team," added Ford, a former Great Britain rugby league international

Crowe, whose fondness for Burgess is understandable when you consider the actor, the Oscar-winning star of Gladiator, is also the owner of the Rabbitohs, was in no doubt England had pulled off a masterstroke.

"F*** me ... Lancaster you frigging champion," Crowe tweeted. "@AllBlacks take note. These boys are intending to win. @Wallabies it's the Poms... natural.

"They did it @englishrugby made the competitive decision. Holy shit the @2015_RWC is on."

England Rugby World Cup squad:

Backs (14)

Back three: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester), Jack Nowell (Exeter), Anthony Watson (Bath)

Centres: Brad Barritt (Saracens), Sam Burgess (Bath), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Henry Slade (Exeter)

Flyhalves: Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath)

Scrumhalves: Danny Care (Harlequins), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester)

Forwards (17)

Back-rows: James Haskell (Wasps), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), Billy Vunipola (Saracens) Tom Wood (Northampton)

Second-rows: George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Geoff Parling (Exeter)

Props: Kieran Brookes (Northampton), Dan Cole (Leicester), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath)

Hookers: Jamie George (Saracens), Rob Webber (Bath), Tom Youngs (Leicester)

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

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