BATH LAST NIGHT confirmed the much-rumoured signature of English rugby league star Sam Burgess on a three-year contract.
The 25-year-old will switch codes in October of this year, moving from the the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL [National Rugby League] to the Aviva Premiership side. Burgess has won 13 caps for England in the league code, scoring seven tries and earning status as one of the most exciting players in the sport.
The 6ft 5ins and 116kg Burgess has also played for Great Britain twice, having originally burst onto the rugby scene with the Bradford Bulls in the Super League. A transfer fee in the region of £500,000 is believed to be involved in Bath’s capture of the Rabbitohs man.
While several other Premiership clubs were interested in signing Burgess, he claims to be excited about the direction Bath are moving in at present.
Bath are a very ambitious club, who have a talented young squad, brilliant coaches and a world class set-up and ethos, and I can’t wait to get my head down and start learning the game,” Burgess told the club’s official website. “Having said that, until the move, my focus will be completely on the Rabbitohs and helping them go one step further.”
Stuart Lancaster and the RFU are sure to be thrilled by this move [if not involved] as they prepare to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil. However, Burgess will have some adapting to do in the 15-man code before then.
A supremely gifted athlete, Burgess seems likely to be used in the centre or back row when he makes to move to union, from where his power, offloading and work rate might be best taken advantage of.
More immediately than any attempt to win a place in the England squad, the prospect of Burgess linking up with the likes of George Ford, Kyle Eastmond and Anthony Watson at Bath is an exciting one.
Rugby league crossovers have been hit and miss in union, with the success of the likes of Jason Robinson, Sonny Bill Williams, Wendall Sailor and Mat Rogers being balanced by the relative disappointments of players such as Lesley Vainikolo and Henry Paul.
Still, this is certainly a move to follow with interest from October onwards. If you don’t know much about Burgess and his story, the documentary above is definitely worth a viewing.