A fascinating rugby union club v country row is currently brewing, with Bath insisting they will not bow to pressure from England to play rugby league convert Sam Burgess at centre, preferring to pitch the 6ft5in powerhouse into the pack as a back-row forward.
The former South Sydney Rabbitoh’s star, who hasn’t played since being named man of the match in his old side’s triumphant NRL final win six months ago, is likely to make his Aviva Premiership debut in December, according to Bath coach Mike Ford.
Ladbrokes.com have priced up a series of bets with regard to Burgess’ immediate future off the back of this news, and after the obvious fuss kicked-up by England the 25-year-old looks a lock (boom boom!) to make Stuart Lancaster’s 2015 World Cup squad at 8/13.
The bookies have also called the Dewsbury native’s chances of starting England’s first Six Nations match away to Wales fairly accurately at 3/1, considering the Red Rose already have a world-class back row featuring captain Chris Robshaw, Billy Vunipola and Tom Wood.
Burgess not starting at the Millennium Stadium is available at 2/9, which rates a much better bet than 7/1 about him being on from the off for hosts England in the World Cup final next year, or 50/1 for the eldest of four professional rugby brothers being named player of the tournament.
However, the best bet going at the moment has to be Burgess scoring over 4.5 Aviva Premiership tries for Bath this term at 5/6.
If he makes his debut in mid-December as expected, Burgess will have 13 games to reach this total.
He scored seven in as many matches for England’s rugby league side, which gives an indication of his proficiency with ball in hand.
It seems unlikely that Burgess will make his progression to Lancaster’s squad before the Six Nations, with plenty of development time needed at the Rec.
He should start at least a dozen times for the Somerset side in the league before the play-offs, with half of those appearances likely to come when the Aviva Premiership is severely weakened by international call ups.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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