Freddie Burns' faltering season hit another speed bump last night after the Irish Wolfhounds defeated the England Saxons 14-8.
Burns missed two vital penalties before throwing the ball into touch and ending England's final assault on the beckoning Irish try-line. Burns' lack of form has contributed to Gloucester sitting in 9th place in the Aviva Premiership and the 23-year-old has confirmed that his future lies away from Kingsholm.
Burns will join Leicester Tigers at the end of the season and it could prove pivotal to the rest of his career.
The Tigers have a long history of talented fly halves and will expect no less from Burns, however at the moment he doesn't appear a worthy replacement for Toby Flood.
If he can regain the form that saw him gain his first England cap then the high expectations at Welford road will set the perfect platform for the youngster to make an assault on the World Cup places next year.
Despite Burns not matching the ability we have seen in the past, this purple patch could prove beneficial in the long term. England's best ever fly half, Jonny Wilkinson, has long recalled the infamous 1998 'Tour from hell' as a redefining moment in his career. Wilkinson said that being on the end of hammering made him realise what had to be done to become the very best.
I'm not saying that Burns is going to go on to be the very best but after having a season that is well below his standards, so far, he will come out a stronger individual and will look to prove wrong all those who doubted him.
Furthermore there are a number of reasons why the move to Leicester will allow Burns to play his best rugby. An aspect of his game that will always endear him to the England coaches is his preference to run the ball and play exciting rugby. Despite Saracens scoring the most tries in England, Owen Farrell is still considered to be a conservative fly half.
Gloucester's pack have continued to struggle this season and as a result Burns and his outside backs such as Jonny May have had to feed on scraps. Leicester's feared pack can ensure quick balls for Burns and his new back line to exploit. This should enable him to receive quick ball and be able to show off the passing that his game is based around.
As aforementioned, at the moment Freddie Burns does not appear to be a fit replacement for Toby Flood. But when his move is put into context with the fact he will be behind a pack rolling forward, Welford Road could be in store for some very expansive and free flowing rugby.
While I'm sure Freddie Burns will give all his effort to his remaining time with Gloucester, come the end of the season he will be raring to go. The fact he will come straight in as first choice fly half will give him the confidence boost he needs to regain some of the form he has been lacking recently. With the World Cup around the corner and England's team by no means confirmed, Freddie Burns is certainly a player to watch come next season.
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