Wallaby Matt Giteau hopes Sam Burgess doesn’t show his X-factor qualities against Australia after the former South Sydney NRL star was named in England’s Rugby World Cup squad.
Burgess left the Rabbitohs after their drought-breaking title win last year and joined English rugby union club Bath with a view to trying to play in the 2015 World Cup.
He has spent time in both the back row and centres but has been selected by England coach Stuart Lancaster to fill either the No.12 or No.13 jersey.
That could mean a potential midfield showdown with inside centre or five-eighth Giteau in a World Cup pool match in early October.
Asked about Burgess, Giteau said “I think he adds a point of difference for them.
“Hopefully that X-factor won’t be shown against us.”
Two years ago, neither Burgess or 32-year-old Giteau looked likely to play in the tournament starting next month.
Souths’ forward leader Burgess was firmly ensconced in the Rabbitohs’ burrow, while Giteau was effectively ineligible to represent Australia as he was playing for French club Toulon.
The Australian Rugby Union earlier this year relaxed the eligibility rules for overseas-based players which ultimately led to Giteau and Toulon clubmate and winger Drew Mitchell making the Wallabies’ World Cup squad.
Having spent several years at Toulon, Giteau is well aware of the danger posed by northern hemisphere heavyweights England and Wales, who are both in Australia’s tough World Cup pool.
“They have got strong squads, you’ve only got to look at the players that have been excluded from their groups to know they are going to be more than competitive,” Giteau said.
“They are going to be extremely tough.
“And to play at home, that’s a huge advantage for them, England in particular.”
Giteau’s 95th and most recent cap was off the bench against New Zealand and he could reach the century mark during the Word Cup if Australia advances to the knockout rounds.
He knows there’s no guarantee he will secure a spot in Australia’s strongest matchday 23 let alone the run-on side.
“I think not just a starting spot but even on the bench there’s quality and competition for all spots,” Giteau said.
“The best you can do is just train. Selection is out of your hands, you’ve just got to train as hard as you can and prepare the best way you can.”