Simon Shaw (AFP Photo)
Hong Kong - Former England lock Simon Shaw said on Thursday he was
bewildered that inexperienced, code-hopping centre Sam Burgess had made the
final cut for coach Stuart Lancaster's Rugby World Cup squad.
Shaw, a veteran of three World Cup campaigns, said the rugby league convert
looked "scared" when he came on as a replacement in England's final
warm-up game against Ireland.
"I'm completely perplexed," Shaw said in an interview on the
sidelines of a Hong Kong Rugby Football Union charity dinner.
"He's not been given enough of a chance to prove himself. Why not play
him as much as possible in the three (warm-up) games to see if he's capable?
"He's played 80 minutes and come off (the bench) again at the weekend and
Shaw, 42, was a late call-up for the England World Cup-winning squad in
Australia in 2003 though never played in any match.
He featured in 2007 when England lost the final to South Africa, and bowed
out of international rugby after the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
"Most players work three years to get a chance at the World Cup and
Burgess has a handful of games for Bath and one game for England and suddenly
he's in," said Shaw.
"And are they genuinely likely to pick him for any of the big games?
Probably not, so I feel sorry for him."
Burgess arrived at Bath last year after starring in Australia's National
Rugby League, but his selection in the hosts' squad has been seen as a gamble.
"He's not going to turn it down, is he?" Shaw said of Burgess's
"But at the weekend he looked scared and like he didn't know what the
hell was going on.
"I hope that all the training he's been doing has given him that extra
confidence so that if he does play during the World Cup he'll have a stormer.
But it's tough to imagine that's going to happen."
Shaw, who missed the 1995 World Cup with injury, had every sympathy with
Welsh full-back and goal-kicker Leigh Halfpenny who is out of the tournament
after tearing knee ligaments on Sunday.
"I got injured a couple of weeks out from the 1995 World Cup and it's
just the worst thing that can happen to you as a rugby player," said Shaw.
"The build-up is such a long process and getting your name announced in
the squad is such a big thing, even if you're a shoo-in like Leigh probably
"A week out for that to happen, it's tragic."