Burgess’s selection is likely to prove highly controversial, especially as Burrell was ever-present in the last two Six Nations.
Meanwhile, Bath coach Mike Ford, whose son George is in line to be England’s starting flyhalf, was in no doubt that Burgess’s skills would outweigh the fact he had been deployed as a flank by the west country club. “It was an unbelievably emotional changing room this morning for me, but I’m sure for the players, to announce the squad but also in respect to the guys who missed out”, he said.
Tournament hosts England begin the World Cup against Fiji at Twickenham on September 18, having been drawn in a tough group also featuring Australia and Wales.
“After 10 weeks in camp we have made our final selection of players and we believe we have a great group to take us into the tournament”.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster will exclude Danny Cipriani when he unveils his 31-man Rugby World Cup squad, according to reports in England today.
Carling, speaking at Heineken’s World Cup campaign launch, insists he feels “sorry” for Burgess for being fast tracked into the England set-up.
Lancaster, however, has been hugely impressed by his physicality and big-match temperament and, after just over one hour’s worldwide action in the home warm-up against France, has trusted him to continue his progress in the white heat of a World Cup.
“Of course I would have liked more time to state my case and am very disappointed not to make the squad”.
Although England were desperately disappointing in the 25-20 defeat, the Northampton centre was one of the few players to emerge with any credit. But keep your heads up and look forward, keep training hard, your opportunities will come.
“We don’t think he’s at a stage where he’s a million miles away or we wouldn’t have selected him”. Most said that I’d only make the bench but ended up making history!
“I would have liked to have seen Sam Burgess included at No. 8 rather than at centre because I think you can organise a team with a maverick a lot better if he’s in the pack rather than in the centre”.
He added: “It’s just the start of my journey”. I’m not going to spend my time thinking “could Dylan be here”.
He ended by urging everyone to support the squad.
It’s the selection of Burgess that is the talking point in England, though.
That leaves Luther Burrell and Henry Slade vying for the remaining spot, with Jonathan Joseph and Brad Barritt virtual certainties.
Jamie George secured the last available hooker position alongside Tom Youngs and Rob Webber while Exeter youngster Luke Cowan-Dickie misses out.
Locks: Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Geoff Parling, George Kruis.
Another benefit to bringing Burgess is that he can offer back-row cover in the event the likes of Chris Robshaw, Tom Wood or James Haskell suffer injury.