Five Saracens players have been named as part of an experimental England side which will face France at Twickenham in a World Cup warm-up match.
Burgess has been selected by World Cup hosts England just 10 months after his high-profile cross-code switch from rugby league, having bowed out of the 13-man games by helping the South Sydney Rabbitohs win Australia’s NRL title.
“We are really excited to play our first QBE global at Twickenham and to put into practice some what we have been working on for the last six weeks”, said England head coach Stuart Lancaster.
It represents a remarkable rise for Burgess, one of six centres vying for four spaces in England’s 31-man World Cup squad, but Lancaster is adamant the 26-year-old’s form in training has warranted the chance to stake his claim.
The feeling persists that Lancaster will spring a surprise when he names his final World Cup squad, even if the options for a bolter to be included in the 31 are narrowing.
“And obviously there’s the physical nature of backlines and you need to look at that element, particularly defensively. This gives Robshaw another week off”, Lancaster said. “We’ll see how he goes”.
“It’s an option for us to look at and it will be interesting to see how well it goes”.
“It’s about what’s right for the team”.
Henry Slade and Sam Burgess will combine in midfield to win maiden England caps while Exeter Chiefs hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie is primed to do so from the bench.
“I am looking forward to the game and there’s only so much training you can do against each other”, Lancaster added.
“The third and most important is to narrow down the selection decisions”. He is confident and he wants to play and as a effect we need to have a look at him.
Team: Alex Goode, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Sam Burgess, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth; Mako Vunipola, Rob Webber, Kieran Brookes, George Kruis, Geoff Parling, Tom Wood (captain), Calum Clark, Ben Morgan.
Replacements: L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), A Corbisiero (Northampton), D Wilson (Bath), D Attwood (Bath), J Haskell (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), D Cipriani (Sale), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester).