Sam Burgess lured to union by Wembley crowd
ESPN Staff
February 25, 2014
A smiling Sam Burgess chats to reporters, London, November 23, 2013
Sam Burgess faces a steep learning curve © PA Photos

England's Rugby League World Cup manager Barrie-Jon Mather said that Sam Burgess may have stayed in the NRL if he could play State of Origin, adding he believed he would struggle to make the transition between codes.

Burgess announced last week he would be joining Bath in the autumn when the current NRL season is finished. Mather told the Sydney Morning Herald he thought the experience of playing in front of 75,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium during the recent Rugby League World Cup was a key factor in Burgess' decision.

''There were 75,000 people all cheering for England and he hasn't experienced that. I think if he had experienced that atmosphere [in Australia] he may have stayed but you can't blame him for wanting him to go and try something.

"There is nothing like playing for your country in a World Cup with 90,000 people cheering for you and the whole country wanting you to do well. I think that is what has probably made his mind up for him."

Mather, who himself switched codes in the 1990s, also questioned how long it would take Burgess to come to terms with the change, doubting whether it will be in time for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

''I am convinced he will make it, I just don't think it will be in the timeframe England are hoping for. I don't think he will be like Sonny Bill [Williams] was in his last year of rugby union. Look how long it took Sonny Bill to get to that stage and Sonny Bill, you could argue, was something more of a ball player.

"[Burgess] will have had no pre-season, he won't know what the shape is or what structures they are going to play, so he is going to have a lot to learn in a very short time to make a very big impact to force himself into the team. 'It is going to be a steep learning curve."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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