Bath Rugby’s rapid rise in Aviva Premiership Rugby is reflected in the England team for their World Cup opener but Sam Burgess insists club allegiances have been put to one side.
As the Red Rose prepare to face Fiji at Twickenham on Friday night, Burgess has been named on the replacements’ bench while George Ford, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson all start.
That back-line trio has played a major role in ensuring Bath went from bottom-half finishers to Aviva Premiership Rugby finalists in the space of two seasons.
But Burgess, who saw Saracens’ Brad Barritt given the nod ahead of him at inside centre, admits there is much more to England than their eye-catching crop from the Rec.
“It’s not necessarily the Bath brigade, we’re an England team now and that’s the way everyone looks at it,” said Burgess. “There are a lot of players from a lot of different clubs but we’ve stamped that out from day one. We’ll have to be a team to win this competition.
“We’ve got a great balance within the squad and I think Brad was exceptional in (the Ireland game) last week and it’s the same with JJ (Joseph), his work-rate off the ball is unbelievable. What you see on the ball is 30 per cent of what their overall game is but we’re working well as a unit.”
Burgess' presence at the World Cup marks a rapid rise in rugby union, after the former league player switched codes mid-way through last season.
“I’m thrilled to be in the World Cup squad," he added. "I dreamed of getting in this position. Once I made the decision to come over, one of my goals was to play in this World Cup. It’s here now, I’ve just got to get out there and do my bit for the team and for this country.
“Sometimes you have a little bit of doubt, but you should never be scared of that. Doubt can sometimes be a driving factor but I always had belief that I could add something to the team.
“I’m thankful to be here now, and I’m looking forward to growing as an England player.”