Rugby | Ford rules out Burgess return to league

London – Bath head coach Mike Ford on
Thursday expressed confidence that code-switching England international Sam
Burgess will not return to rugby league despite a disappointing experience at
the World Cup.

Burgess, who has two years left on his Bath
contract, is taking a break in Spain amid reports he is considering a return to
his former league club South Sydney Rabbitohs in Australia.

But Ford said that that the 26-year-old was
due to return to training with Bath next week and dismissed suggestions he
might walk away from union.

“Last week Sam came back into training
because initially that’s what he wanted, but then he did and he didn’t quite
feel right,” Ford told BBC Radio 4.

“We decided to give him time off there
and then, which means that he’s gone away to get refreshed and will be back in
training on November 2.

“There are no dramas here. Everyone
has put two and two together, seen him sitting next to (England rugby league
coach) Steve McNamara watching his brother play rugby league.”

Asked if he was 100 percent confident that
Burgess would stay at Bath, Ford replied: “Yes. I’ve spoken to Sam many
times. We’ve talked about him coming back to Bath, rolling his sleeves up and
playing six for us.”

Burgess was a contentious selection for
England’s World Cup squad, having only made his international debut in August
after switching codes late last year.

He was selected by coach Stuart Lancaster
at the expense of the more experienced Luther Burrell, but despite impressing
against Fiji, he failed to make an impact as the hosts went out in the group

Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy gave a
withering critique of his displays in an Irish Times column, accusing Burgess
of embarrassing his team-mates and saying he “doesn’t know how to play
inside centre”.

Complicating matters for Burgess was the
fact he played at number 12 for England despite having operated as a blindside
flank, and Ford remains convinced that his future lies in the pack.

“Sam’s got a three-year contract,
there are two more years left on that and this is the time when he becomes a
better rugby union player,” Ford said.

“Everything we’ve spoken about is the
future, about playing well for Bath and playing in the Champions Cup. And then
potentially getting him playing for England in the Six Nations at six and if
not, then on the end-of-season tour to Australia.

“The plan is for him to come back to
training on Monday and we can’t wait to have him back.”

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