Rugby Union

Three reasons why Sam Burgess will become a superstar

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The rugby world has been in a spin these last two weeks since rugby league convert, Sam Burgess took a herculean step into the international cauldron.

His performance in that victory against France will potentially be enough, despite his lack of union experience, to take him into the England World Cup squad.

Here are three reasons why Burgess is destined for union greatness.

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Born Leader

Passionate and vocal - Sam Burgess seemed to be the only England player on the field in the second half of England's narrow victory over France two weeks ago who was up for the fight. This committed fire was missed even more in the French backyard.

Indeed pride was at stake for the debutant Burgess, who has had to deal with naysayers criticising yet another rugby league experiment by the RFU. Where the legendary Jason Robinson succeeded many, indeed most, have failed, including the most decorated player in GB rugby league history, Andy Farrell.

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However, not one of these naysayers can call Burgess out for any lack of effort. After every breakdown, every covering tackle, Burgess was there to congratulate as his presence emanated around Twickenham. England lack genuine leaders in their back line, a role the monolithic Burgess would be able to take with relative ease.

The Big Hits and The Bulldozing Runs

"Great Britain's Sonny Bill" has already shown he can translate his physical rugby league game to union just as New Zealand's Williams displayed when he tore up the last world cup in 2011. His game lacks the subtlety of fellow Bath and England centre, Jonathan Joseph, but his two colossus hits on France's Dmitri Szarzewski and Alexandre Dumoulin could be felt all the way back over the channel. Their first half flow was certainly disrupted by Burgess' big hits and less regular yet still potent bulldozing runs.

These are the sort of box office attributes that bring fans through the door and will make a superstar out of Sam Burgess as with Sonny Bill Williams. Adding to this physicality, his menacing presence usually draws 3 or 4 men into the tackle potentially opening space up for the more maverick men in the England back line (Watson, Joseph, Eastmond - as has happened at Bath throughout the year) to sprinkle their fairy dust on proceedings.

The accolades

The first Englishman to be named the international rugby league player of the year, just one year ago. Previous year's winner - Sonny Bill Williams. In an England team thwarted for international glory by the far superior New Zealand and Australia, Burgess may not have seen much silverware, but while playing against the best of the best for South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL, Burgess showed himself to be much better than the rest.

Can Burgess then follow the path trodden by Sonny Bill Williams to Rugby Union superstardom? Yes, if he remains focused and driven unlike the meandering Williams who seems to traverse between league, union and rather strangely, boxing, as if there is no tomorrow. The natural athleticism is there for all to see and Burgess' hard working nature should put him in good stead as the potential future of English rugby, and while he may have bitten off more than he can chew in preparing for this coming World Cup, next years Six Nations would be a marvellous showcase for his undoubted talents and ability

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Topics:
Rugby Union
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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