Bath Rugby head coach Mike Ford inisists people must not expect too much of Sam Burgess too soon after the rugby league convert made his starting debut against Montpellier on Friday night.
The 25-year-old Burgess was heavily involved in the build up to Matt Banahan’s first two tries as the Rec outfit claimed a 32-12 bonus-point victory in the European Rugby Champions Cup.
Burgess’ first start was somewhat overshadowed by the impressive Banahan who claimed a hat-trick of scores while Horacio Agulla went over for the decisive fourth try late on.
But all eyes were on Burgess who lined up in the centres at the Rec even though Ford is keen to test him in the back-row before too long.
"It is a couple of months away before you start seeing the real Sam Burgess, but what he has done so far has been fantastic," head coach Ford said.
"We are ready for the criticism, what he can't do and how it is too early for him. We have got our heads screwed on, and we know what we are doing.
"The plan was to put him in the back-row for the last 20 minutes, and maybe if we had played better in the first-half we could have done that, but the game was too tight, so I kept him where he was.
"He will probably be on the bench against Gloucester next Saturday, and then there is an A team game after that and he will probably play the full 80 in that.
"He is on the right line, he is loving it and he is learning all the time. Let him learn the game, and we will do that by playing him."
For Burgess, who turns 26 on Sunday, the first start was an eye opener to the intricacies of the XV-man code.
And the former Bradford Bull and South Sydney Rabbitoh admits he is learning all the time as he undergoes his transition.
"I've got mixed feelings. There are things I can improve on but I'm happy with some aspects of the game. To get a full 80 was good. I'm looking forward to reviewing the game and seeing where I can improve,” he added.
"It's the first 80 minutes of hopefully a few more and I will take a lot from the game.
"Certainly it's harder than I thought, but it's a game I've never played before. I thought they [league and union] would be very similar in a lot of ways but they are actually not.
"It's been a great challenge and although it's been hard, it's been enjoyable."
Tries: Banahan 3, Agulla
Cons: Ford 3
Pens: Ford 2
Tries: Tulou, Ivaldi
Ref: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
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