Sam Burgess (Gallo)
London - Sam Burgess wants to stay in rugby
union and extend his contract at Bath with an eye on playing in the backrow at
the next Rugby World Cup rather than as a centre, the role handed to him by
coach Stuart Lancaster during England's disastrous campaign.
Burgess's inclusion in Lancaster's squad
for the tournament at the expense of Six Nations regular Luther Burrell raised
eyebrows because the former rugby league player had featured in only one
international up to that point.
The former South Sydney Rabbitohs player,
who converted to union a year ago, was criticised for his performances in
England's defeat by Wales and the loss to Australia that resulted in the hosts'
early World Cup exit.
Burgess was reported this week to be
heading back to rugby league to play for Leeds Rhinos, with speculation
intensifying to the point where bookmakers stopped taking bets on his return on
But Bath head coach Mike Ford has said
Burgess intends to extend his contract to play union in the English Premiership
and wants to play in the next World Cup in Japan in 2019 as a flanker.
"The last conversation I had with him,
he was going to extend his contract with us and he wanted to go for the next
World Cup," Ford was quoted as saying by the Times on Thursday.
"He is going to play for us for the
next few years. He loves rugby union, he is settled in Bath and he knows he is
a six," Ford added.
"Proving he is an international
back-rower is the big challenge now for Sam. He's always been a No 6 for us, no
question. We've talked about next time the England squad gets selected, his
goal's got to be to be there as a six."
Burgess, 26, made the blindside flanker
role his own for Bath in the final months of last season, but Lancaster said in
July that he would play him as a centre because he was not "effective in
Ford intends to continue giving Burgess the
chance to develop as a flanker at Bath and backed him to force the England
management to select him as a forward for next year's Six Nations.
"We have an unbelievable run of
fixtures coming up, we have Toulon, Leinster, Leicester, Northampton and Wasps
twice," Ford said.
"If he can play six in those games,
against the best in Europe, I am sure England will have a look at him in that
role. I am sure he'll break into the international squad as a six," Ford