Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sam Won't Hold Us Back, He's Delivered in More Big Games Than Most of the England Team

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sam Won't Hold Us Back, He's Delivered in More Big Games Than Most of the England Team

Article excerpt

Byline: Jason Robinson

IHAVE absolutely no doubt Sam Burgess can handle whatever Wales throw at him in the biggest match of the World Cup so far. You have to remember that while Burgess is new to rugby union, he is an experienced player who has already played for his country and won the toughest rugby league competition in Australia.

England have not picked a rookie at inside centre for tomorrow's match with Wales, they have selected a battlehardened rugby player who has proved he can perform at the very highest level. I said from day one that I believed he could be a success in union and make the World Cup squad, but there has been confusion about him since his move back to England with Bath.

Burgess is not new to rugby and over the last nine years he has been playing in top-quality competitions. He knows what it takes at the highest level and is used to handling pressure -- he's probably delivered in more big games than most of the England team.

It is important to clear up that misunderstanding and while I accept that technically he is not as sharp as someone like Jamie Roberts of Wales, what he does bring is a physicality that not many forwards have got, let alone backs.

Giving Burgess a start will allow him to get his hands on the ball, which is something he is used to doing in league. This is a massive game for him and one he has been hoping to play in. He doesn't want to just come off the bench for 20 minutes in matches -- and now Stuart Lancaster has given him that chance.

The battle between Burgess and Roberts will be worth the admission money alone. Roberts is used by Wales to get them over the gain line and to soften up defence -- and I know that Burgess will be licking his lips in anticipation of testing himself against one of the best centres in world rugby. Burgess won't be afraid of that challenge and will want to make his mark.

He has been paired with Brad Barritt at centre and it is yet another combination with limited experience of playing together. …

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