One month out from a potential Rugby World Cup debut, rugby league convert Sam Burgess insists he’s not knowing some finer points of the game won’t hold him back.
Burgess made a compelling case for a spot in coach Stuart Lancaster’s 31-man England World Cup squad with a barnstorming performance in his Test debut, a victory against France at Twickenham on Saturday.
But his major slip-up came in the form of his sin-binning late in the first half – when he was singled out by French halfback Morgan Parra, who ran straight at a back-pedalling Burgess after a quick tap from a penalty and drew a tackle before he’d retreated 10m.
The yellow card came as a shock to Burgess, who later admitted he didn’t realise it would trigger an automatic 10-minute stint on the sidelines.
“Thankfully it didn’t cost us the game. I’ll be richer for the experience though I guess,” said Burgess after becoming the first England player sin-binned on senior international debut.
“It’s something I’ll learn (from) and won’t do again. I didn’t realise it was an automatic sin-binning. It’s just a reaction thing.”
It was a moment of cutting honesty about the challenges the 26-year-old faces despite the enormous strides he’s made this year.
But when asked if he had expected to know all the complex laws of the 15-man game so close to the World Cup, which starts with England’s clash with Fiji on September 18, Burgess was unapologetic.
“Do you know all the rules?” he asked a journalist.
“There’s a lot of rules, man.
“Sometimes I think that the players that have played for all their lives don’t know the full rules.
“But I’m not going to lose too much sleep over it.”
Burgess revealed some coaching on the run from teammates helped stop him spending more time in the bin later in the game.
“The boys were talking to me (when) it happened again in the second half,” he said. “Richard Wigglesworth was shouting `Sam, no! Don’t touch him!'”
But the Clive Churchill medal winner also said he felt more comfortable in the rugby union with each passing day.
Comparing his England debut, and his time in camp, to his debut with the second-string England side, the Saxons seven months ago, Burgess said it was like chalk and cheese.
“I’m feeling so much more comfortable within the game,” he said.
“I guess leaving one sport that you feel that you know inside out, and then coming to another, you start all over again. It is frustrating, I’m not going to lie.
“But I’m sticking with it and I’m really enjoying the challenge.
England play a further warm-up game against France in Paris this weekend with mass changes expected from the experimental lineup fielded last Saturday.