Dennis tips Burgess to make great No.8
August 6, 2014
Dave Dennis tips Sam Burgess as a great No. 8 © Getty Images
Former Wallaby back-rower Dave Dennis reckons Sam Burgess would make a great rugby union No.8, but has tipped the English rugby league star to make a successful transition as either a forward or back.
The powerful South Sydney forward is scheduled to switch codes after the Rabbitohs' NRL campaign ends this season. The 25-year-old is looking to represent England at next year's Rugby World Cup and will be linking up with famous club side Bath.
Burgess has consistently refused to talk about rugby and his impending switch since announcing the move earlier this year. However, he has clearly been swotting up on the 15-a-side code as he told injured NSW captain Dennis he had been watching the Waratahs, who last weekend won their maiden Super Rugby title.
On Wednesday, Burgess was able to directly mine back-rower Dennis's mind for rugby intelligence as both helped to launch a gold standard anti-doping program at Sydney's Redfern Oval.
Other league forwards to make the switch like Englishman Andy Farrell and New Zealander Sonny Bill Williams played Test rugby in the centres, though Farrell also played as a back in the 13-a-side code.
"I think Bath are looking to play him at 12, but I was saying I think he would make a great No.8," Dennis told AAP. "It will be interesting to see what he does there, but I think he's such a quality player. He's aggressive, he's skilful and I think he'll make the transition well there, at 12 or eight."
Dennis only played a couple of league games as a schoolboy, but a recent cross-code session meant he was able to highlight to Burgess the different approaches the two codes had to tackling.
"It was interesting because we did the training with the (NRL) Roosters a few weeks ago," Dennis said. "It's obviously a lot about the upper body and the wrestle in league. Compared to union, it's probably a bit more below the hips, getting low, driving hard.
"I talked to him about the difference there in terms of the contact zone where there's a bit more below your hips rather than just an upper-body wrestle. I think he'll be across it all and he said he's actually kept a keen eye on the Waratahs this year so I'm sure he's learning as he goes."