Coach for Burgess selection

LONDON – England coach Stuart Lancaster insists Sam Burgess’s inclusion in his final 31-man Rugby World Cup squad was no selection gamble.

Ten months ago Burgess won the Clive Churchill Medal in South Sydney Rabbitohs’ NRL Grand Final victory in his last game for the club, but since transferring to the 15-man game has played just 70 minutes of international rugby. Despite this, the 26-year-old has manged to edge out the more experienced Luther Burrell for a place among Lancaster’s centres even though Burgess spent much of last season playing as a back-row forward for Bath.

With so little evidence of his Test ability, many view Burgess’s inclusion as a risk.

But Lancaster said: “I wouldn’t describe it as a gamble. I understand the size of this decision, but I understand the size of every decision when you’re in a World Cup year. Every one is a big one.

“He (Burgess) has done great. He’s earned the right. He’s picked on merit from what we’ve seen in the camp.”

Meanwhile, England backs coach Andy Farrell, who himself changed codes from rugby league to play in the 2007 World Cup with England, beaten in the final of that edition by South Africa in Paris, said Burgess “should be unbelievably proud of himself”.

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