'Fascinated' Lancaster keeping tabs on Burgess
ESPN Staff
November 27, 2014
Sam Burgess has been subject to a club-versus-country row over his ideal position © Getty Images

Sam Burgess' early Bath debut will be "a bonus" for his chances of making next year's World Cup squad, according to England head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Bath recruit Burgess is ready for his Aviva Premiership debut against Harlequins on Friday, a month ahead of schedule after his quickfire recovery from a shattered cheekbone.

Just a month after arriving at the Recreation Ground, Burgess has been named on the bench for the clash against Quins.

"It's a bonus that he's starting this early, but it's a long way to go before we start picking our World Cup squad," Lancaster said. "It will come down to how he plays; the earlier he learns how to play the game, the more he can learn about it.

"Having worked in the north at Leeds we've had a lot of players come across from league. Some adapted very quickly and others took longer.

"I'm pleased, and I'll be watching: it will be fascinating to see how he goes. Obviously he's been passed fit and has learned the game pretty quickly. He's watched a lot of union so the next step is to have a crack. It's great that Bath have put him in there."

Burgess suffered a nasty cheek and eye-socket injury in the first minute of the NRL Grand Final last month - his final game in league format. He stayed on and won the man of the match award as South Sydney won their first NRL title in 43 years.

He has been the subject of a club-versus-country tussle ever since his big-money move was announced, with Bath head coach Mike Ford adamant he will be best-deployed in the back-row in the long-run.

Lancaster wants to see Burgess feature at inside centre, now the national side's problem position.

"A few areas [positions] have been thrown around," Burgess said. "If I am quite honest, I don't know where I am best suited. Over time, I think that will become clear.

"Nothing is set in stone, and there is no pressure on myself from Mike (Ford) to do anything. I am just going to get in there, knuckle down and do my best."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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