Rugby Union

Mike Tindall questions midfield pairing

Published 1 Comments

Former England centre Mike Tindall has delivered a scathing assessment of the midfield pairing of Sam Burgess and Henry Slade that has been selected for Saturday's opening World Cup warm-up match against France.

The uncapped Red Rose team-mates are effectively going head to head after head coach Stuart Lancaster admitted it would be a "big step" to take both to the global showpiece on these shores given their inexperience.

Cross code convert Burgess makes his Test debut despite having spent just 10 months in union and playing his best rugby for Bath last season at blindside flanker, not inside centre where he will be positioned against France at Twickenham.


Do you have what it takes? Sign up today and send over your 250 word test article:

Article continues below

Slade is only 22 and covers all three midfield positions, but his strengths are distribution and kicking and he will offer game-management at 13.

Tindall, a World Cup winner in 2003, believes both are being played out of position for what is potentially their only chance to force their way into England's World Cup squad.

Article continues below

"If I was completely honest, I wouldn't have Sam Burgess in the centre, I still prefer him at six. And I don't think Slade is a natural 13 either and definitely not for this World Cup," Tindall said.

Tindall's biggest reservation is over Burgess' understanding of the defensive complexities of union.

"I know Sam has the ability to carry down the middle and be that go-forward centre," Tindall said.

"My only concern is around defensive decision-making. I watched him a few times when he defended at 12 and the Bath v Saracens match jumps out at me in terms of when he got caught a couple of times stepping in on a dummy runner.

"Yes you can learn to work together and defend better, but I still feel his initial instinct is to chase a hit and that might mean there may be the opportunity to play around him a little bit."

"I don't have any questions about his skill set or his ability - he's proved how good an athlete he is, there's no question about that.

"I prefer him in that six role where he can stick to his primal game. Yes the line-outs are an issue and that's what England have said are the big thing, which I understand, but I still prefer him there.

"Ultimately with him at six, he gives the option of covering both a forward and a back. You can have a five-two split on the bench knowing he can cover a back row and a centre."

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE:

Rugby Union
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

Article Comments

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again

Like our GiveMeSport - Rugby Union Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to G+, don't ask me again