Burgess backed to make union switch

Andover Advertiser: Sam Burgess, centre, has been linked with a move to Aviva Premiership side Bath Sam Burgess, centre, has been linked with a move to Aviva Premiership side Bath

England assistant coach Andy Farrell views Sam Burgess as a "warrior" capable of making a successful cross-code switch.

The Rugby Football Union are thought to be willing to part fund a move that would buy Burgess out of the remaining two years of his contract with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Farrell categorically denies approaching Burgess over a potential move to union during last year's rugby league World Cup, but is an admirer of the 25-year-old.

"Sam can make an impact, that's the type of person he is. He's an impact type of guy. That's what he brings with his attitude etc," Farrell said.

"He's certainly a fighter and a warrior. He's very similar to what we have in people like Luther Burrell, Billy Twelvetrees and Manu Tuilagi. Those type of people are pretty important."

Reports state that Burgess would be signed with a view to his participation in the 2015 World Cup and Farrell admits that while it is feasible for a player of Burgess' calibre, it would be a major challenge.

"It's a tough ask, but some people can take to things more quickly than others," said Farrell, himself a rugby league convert.

"Mentality-wise you're trying to get ready for a battle, especially at international level, but the game does take some time to get used to as far as instinct is concerned.

"I'm not saying that somebody of the calibre of player we are talking about couldn't."

Farrell distanced himself from the suggestion he has had any involvement in a possible transfer, stating that his only contact with Burgess was while presenting him with his shirt before last November's World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.

"Not once have I ever spoken to Sam about rugby union in any way, shape or form," he said.

"The last time I spoke to him was at the World Cup, like I spoke to 24 other players."

Burgess' ability to make a successful cross-code switch has also been trumpeted by England rugby league head coach Steve McNamara.

"We all recognise what a huge loss he would be to the game of rugby league and specifically the England team," McNamara said.

"He was pretty sensational for us at the end of last season. Sam is the jewel in the crown of rugby league at the minute but I'm sure he will make the best decision for himself.

"He's a fantastic physical specimen. He's got great skills, is quick for a big man and has all the attributes to be probably whatever he wants to be.

"I'm sure that if he did decide to change sports he would be a success."

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