Sam Burgess eager but patient at prospect of Bath switch
One of rugby league’s greatest current prospects has finally made his switch to rugby union permanent, signing for Aviva Premiership side Bath. Sam Burgess, who recently won the NRL Grand Final with South Sydney Rabbitohs, moves back to British shores having crossed codes.
The question on many fans’ lips, however, is when the 25-year-old will make his debut with his new club, who are 5/1 with Coral to win the Aviva Premiership Grand Final this season.
“Everyone is asking,” Burgess said. “But I really don’t know. We will play it by ear. I have had quite a lot of work done in my face and the surgeon said to me ‘don’t be silly’. We will make a smart decision over time with the medical staff here.
“First and foremost, it is really important for me to knuckle down, slot into the team at Bath and earn the respect of my team-mates here. That’s the most important thing. Being in a team environment is one of the most powerful things. I am not getting carried away with anything. I understand it is going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of commitment to achieve what I want.”
Burgess is not the only player to have crossed codes, and the player has revealed he has been in touch with players who have been in his shoes before. Even his new coach Mike Ford played rugby league for a number of clubs, before taking up a coaching role in union and working his way up.
“It is always nice to talk with people who have been in your situation before. I have spoken to Faz (Andy Farrell) a couple of times, but nothing in depth. With the NRL competition in Australia, I was very much into that and didn’t want any distractions.
“Jason [Robinson] has been in touch, and I am sure we will sit down and have a chat. These guys are successful people.”
Another question Burgess isn’t sure of the answer to, is what position he will play, and even admits himself that in union he doesn’t know what his best role would be, and also spoke of his England chances.
“A few areas have been thrown around,” he said. “If I am quite honest, I don’t know where I am best suited. Over time, I think that will become clear. Nothing is set in stone, and there is no pressure on myself from Mike to do anything. I am just going to get in there, knuckle down and do my best.
“England is something I have no control over. There are always going to be outside influences that have their opinion. That’s part of the game, part of the sport and part of the challenge to ignore what is going on.
“In rugby league in Australia you are scrutinised in fine detail, so I have learnt a lot in five years over there. Hopefully, I can bring that here with me into my new career at Bath.
“Sometimes the greatest challenge of all is beating the outside noise, and once you find the key to that then it is quite easy. I’m most looking forward to playing at the Recreation Ground. That’s the first thing I want to tick off – to run out, play for Bath and give it my all.”