Rugby Union

England 'lost control' of Sam Burgess signing, says Bath coach Mike Ford

Bath head coach Mike Ford has spoken candidly about former charge Sam Burgess - and revealed that he should never have made England's 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.

Burgess was selected in Stuart Lancaster's ill-fated 31-man squad that failed to make it out of the group stage, but his former club coach insists he was too raw.

More Sport Videos

Sport: The week's best plays

From incredible blocks to remarkable goals, these are the most exciting, silly and downright crazy plays in the sporting world this week.

"No, Sam wasn't ready," Ford told London's Daily Telegraph.

"He shouldn't have been picked in the World Cup squad in the first place. He couldn't get in our team at centre and there he was starting against Wales."

Tough stint in union: Sam Burgess.
Tough stint in union: Sam Burgess. Photo: Getty Images

Ford previously backed Burgess's bid to make the World Cup squad in August, after describing his debut international union game against France as "world class".

In November, Burgess, a 2014 NRL premiership winner with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, called it quits on the 15 man game, and opted to return to his former side for the 2016 season.

Advertisement

The 27-year-old was a constant target for critics throughout England's failed campaign, many of whom insisted he was never ready for the rigours of Test match rugby.

Ford now echoes the sentiments, pointing to how the saga started when the Rugby Football Union failed to provide assistance in the recruitment process.

"If there had ever been a share between Union and club, then we might not have signed Sam as we didn't ever see him as a centre that would suit our style of play," said Ford.

"England lost control of the signing of Sam and, with it, a direct say in where he would play.

"For us, he was a back-row forward. He wouldn't have got in our midfield, where we had Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph.

"Of course, he did play there for us at the start, but that was because J J [Joseph] was a surprise call-up for the Six Nations. But for the last eight games of the season, Sam was in the back row for us, including the Premiership final."

The Clive Churchill medallist has continued to draw the ire of Ford after his decision to make a sensational return to the Rabbitohs, where he will reportedly be earning $1.5 million a year, making him the league's highest earning player.

"Sam came to tell me that he wasn't sure if he was enjoying union enough, that he missed his family [in Sydney], that he had a short career and that he wanted to make sure that he enjoyed it, " revealed Ford.

"I told him that he was just suffering a World Cup hangover and to go away and think about it all. He did, and he went back to league. He had found it much harder than he thought.

"He was used to being the Pied Piper figure in league and maybe he figured it would soon be the same in union. It wasn't.

"Sam realised that it was a major project, and perhaps that he might never get the recognition he enjoyed in league. So, back he went. It was very disappointing."

The newly married star will play his first league game in over a year for the World All Stars against the Indigenous All Stars at Suncorp Stadium on February 13.

25 comments