Rugby

Burgess: Monkey off my back

2014-11-29 08:54
Sam Burgess (Getty)

London - Rugby league star Sam Burgess made his highly-anticipated union debut for Bath in a comprehensive 25-6 victory over Harlequins in the English Premiership on Friday.

Burgess had not played rugby since fracturing his cheekbone and eye socket during his final appearance for South Sydney in their 30-6 NRL Grand Final victory over Canterbury Bulldogs in October.

But he was named on the bench for Bath, for whom he was signed a three-year deal worth an estimated 270,000 with a tilt at England's World Cup squad in mind.

And the player capped 28 times as a forward for England in rugby league came on in the 63rd minute as a centre alongside fellow league convert Kyle Eastmond.

"The superhuman from rugby league given a blast!" was how BT Sport commentator Nick Mullins heralded Burgess' arrival.

Immediately from an attacking scrum, Irish scrum-half Peter Stringer passed straight to Burgess on a crash ball, three men required to take him down as he laid the ball back perfectly.

The 25-year-old rugby league convert was not expected to make his Bath bow until the end of December, but he had asked his coaches to be integrated into the squad more quickly.

Burgess has apparently spent his time at Bath "asking 1,000 questions", according to coach Mike Ford, and he displayed his technical ability with a sharp clear-out of England scrum-half Danny Care at a ruck as the game ran out of steam.

"To be honest, I was a little bit nervous on the bench, but I really enjoyed it," Burgess told BT Sport.

"The monkey's off the back, I guess, and now I can just focus and try and knuckle down and improve my game with the team.

"I've had quite a lot of practice over the last few weeks, so it was nice to get out on the pitch.

"I went out and tried to enjoy it and I certainly did. I've got a lot to learn still but I'm really enjoying it."

Ford praised Eastmond for guiding Burgess through his debut.

"It was important Kyle stayed on when Sam came on," Ford said. "Through training all week, Sam's been asking 1,000 questions and Kyle's been answering them.

"It's basically 'follow me and I'll give you the ball when I can', so it's important that Sam felt at home with someone on the same wavelength."

Bath took control of the game early on through two tries from Matt Banahan and the influential Eastmond, Argentina international full-back Horacio Agulla providing the crucial offloads for each try.

Ex-All Black fly-half Nick Evans responded with a penalty before Bath counterpart Ollie Devoto knocked one over for the home side to make it 13-3 at half-time.

Evans scored an early second-half penalty as Devoto missed one to add to his two previous skewed conversions.

But Bath were still asserting their set-piece dominance, and Quins, badly missing prop Joe Marler and flanker Chris Robshaw on England duty, paid for a further scrum infringement when tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler was yellow carded by referee Wayne Barnes.

Barnes then sent visiting lock George Robson to the bin for hauling down a maul just metres from the line, to compound woes as Burgess began warming up in pouring rain at Bath's Recreation Ground.

Harlequins' replacement tighthead Will Collier also received a yellow card with the London club's scrum in disarray and throwing up a wealth of possession for the west England club.

From a driving line-out Bath hooker Ross Batty broke off for a third try, Devoto again missing the conversion.

No 8 Leroy Houston crossed for the fourth try from another maul to hand the home side a bonus point, Devoto kicking the extras as Burgess enjoyed a successful start to the 15-a-side game to set tongues wagging ahead of next year's World Cup.

Read more on:    harlequins  |  bath  |  aviva premiership  |  rugby
NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured

The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
Vote

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee remains defiant, saying he won't resign despite a shambolic two years at the helm. Your thoughts?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.