TOP BAR - Fixtures

Burgess says he’s ready to take centre stage for England

Sam Burgess has declared himself ready for a potential showdown with Wales’ own wrecking ball centre, Jamie Roberts, on Saturday as he aims to cement a starting berth for England.

There are few players at this year’s Rugby World Cup who carry more intrigue than Burgess, the 26-year-old making the cut for England’s squad after just one season’s worth of Aviva Premiership rugby union under his belt with Bath Rugby.

And the cross-code convert made a sizable impact off the bench alongside the likes of Wasps lock Joe Launchbury and bonus-point hero Billy Vunipola in the Red Rose’s opening 35-11 victory with Fiji.

If Burgess is to break into the starting XV he must displace Saracen Brad Barritt, who was given the nod at inside centre for the Twickenham opener.

Up next is an injury-ravaged Wales – they came away with a long list of knocks from their victory over Uruguay on Sunday – but new Harlequins man Roberts is likely to be waiting for whoever lines up at No.12.

Burgess said: "I enjoyed my performance and I thought I added something to the team.

"The boys before me had laid a great foundation so that we were able to come on and finish the job off.

"Yes of course I feel ready, I feel comfortable. I've been around this group a long time now.

"We believe in each other and we believe in ourselves, that's certainly the case for myself.

"You want everyone to do well and that's the great thing about this squad. If I was handed the chance, then sure, I feel ready.”

Despite their injury woes Wales tend to rise to the occasion when their backs are to the wall, as evidenced by their incredible second-half defensive stand to beat eventual Six Nations winners Ireland back in March.

Warren Gatland’s troops also took France down to the wire in the 2011 World Cup semi-final after spending more than an hour with 14 men and Burgess says England cannot disregard a wounded animal.

“Wales have a great defensive record and we will have to be at our best to get some points on the board,” Burgess added.

“We'll work tremendously hard this week. Wales will be ready and well prepared. It will be another great game.

“It doesn't get much better than this. It's pinnacle of the game and to be a part of it his fantastic. I'm enjoying every moment.”
 

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