Burrell, who has started in England’s midfield during the last two Six Nations campaigns, has a lot of credit in the bank but the management team are also attracted by the X-factor that Burgess brings from his outstandingly physical performances on the world stage in rugby league.
Burgess and Slade forged a new-look centre partnership as they made their Test debuts at Twickenham last Saturday in their only opportunity to advance claims for inclusion in Stuart Lancaster’s World Cup squad. The code-crosser from rugby league tackled hard but drew a slamming rebuke in TV commentary from a centre past-master, Jerry Guscott, for ruining an England attack by falling out of position.
Whatever blend or mix of England’s 31 man squad it will be a strong one and one that we can trust.
“I’ve always thought of Sam as a guy with a tremendous skill-set, attitude, work-rate and physicality”. We all have our opinions but at that end of the day they are just that and Stuart Lancaster and his coaching team will be the ones to decide.
“He can appear in the backs or the forwards. I think he’s matured massively from that side of things”. But if he’s not in, then people will be saying he should have been. The one game I played with him at inside-centre was against Wasps [for Bath at the Rec].
Dawson, who won 77 caps, was a key cog in England’s World Cup triumph in 2003. Who can’t game-manage?
“You have to think about who will come on in the second minute if your fly-half is injured”.
“The Lions tour in two years’ time, Sam Burgess is going to be an absolute star”.
“But he wouldn’t be in my 31-man World Cup squad – my four centres would be Brad Barritt, Jonathan Joseph, Luther Burrell and Henry Slade, who really looked world class against France in the first warm-up game”.
However England play three of their pool games at Twickenham where their supporters, and familiarity with all that comes with massive internationals at the famous venue, will give them some advantage.
“Henry Slade played out of his skin and more importantly looked like he could do that week in, week out”.
But Warren Gatland is likely to have his game-changer back in time for their Millennium Stadium kick-off against Uruguay on September 20. “It tightens you up as a unit all the way from the baggage man right through to the higher management – right through to (Steve) Tew”, he said. “Any other side and he would be there”.
Lee has earned the tag of Wales’ scrummaging cornerstone, but his World Cup was in doubt when he ruptured his Achilles tendon against Ireland in March.