The most high-profile cross-code switch in rugby history became a reality this morning as Sam Burgess was ‘unveiled’ at The Rec.
The 25-year-old England Rugby League behemoth joins Bath having finished his South Sydney Rabbitohs career with an NRL Grand Final victory. His consistently excellent performances with the Rabbitohs helped the side to their first title in 43 years and Burgess became the first Englishman to win the prestigious man of the match Clive Churchill Medal.
Following the culmination of the NRL season he was named International Rugby League Player of the Year, again becoming the first Englishman to win this award. Now he is preparing to play a part in Bath Rugby’s challenge for domestic and European honours.
“The thought of taking to the field with the talented players here at Bath really motivates me,” said Burgess. “I’m here to work hard and learn the game. I just want to get my head down so that I can be in the best possible position to be an asset to the Club. I see Bath as the perfect learning environment for me, and am really looking forward to getting to grips with rugby union.”
Head Coach Mike Ford commented: “We’re hugely excited about what Sam can bring to this team. It’s not going to be an overnight process, but he possesses all the attributes to thrive in union. Sam’s going to complement the outstanding players we already have here at Bath. The guys in possession of the starting places have played outstandingly so far this season, so it won’t be a case of Sam walking into the team straight away, and he knows that, but he’s a talented player and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can bring to our side.”
The question remains though as to what position Burgess will settle in, with Ford tipped to be thinking about starting him in the centres but also weighing up the option of putting him at no.8. Where would you like to see him?