first cap

Slammin' Sam Burgess produced a pair of huge hits on his England debut

The former rugby league star was also yellow carded at Twickenham.

RARELY HAVE WE seen as much focus on a player making the transition from rugby league to rugby union as there has been around Sam Burgess.

It’s with good cause, as the 26-year-old was a sensational league player with Bradford Bulls, South Sydney Rabbitohs and England. His combination of exceptional physical prowess, intelligence and a strong skillset meant Burgess’ code hop was always bound to attract hype.

Those expecting Burgess to immediately run riot in union were underestimating the difficulty of the transfer, but Bath and now England’s Stuart Lancaster have been unwavering believers in his ability to be a success in union.

Despite playing much of last season in the back row for Bath, Burgess is seen as a centre by Lancaster and that’s where he made his Test debut for England last night against France in their World Cup warm-up fixture at Twickenham.

A pair of impressive hits on Dimitri Szarzewski and Alexandre Dumoulin demonstrated Burgess’ defensive qualities, although a yellow card for dragging back Morgan Parra after a quick-tap penalty was a negative.

Many fans are already tired of the scrutiny on Burgess, but his progression has been a fascinating one to follow. Pitched into Test rugby in midfield last night, the former Rabbitoh made errors but also suggested that he can cope at that level.

Rugby Union - World Cup Warm Up - England v France - Twickenham Stadium Burgess hammers in France hooker Swarzewski. PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

With undoubtedly strong mental skills, Burgess is only likely to improve from here and Lancaster praised the 6ft 5ins powerhouse after his Test debut despite the blot of a yellow card.

What did you think of Burgess’ debut for England? Will he be a success and can he make an impression at RWC2015?

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