Sam Burgess is ready to make a seamless transition into England’s starting line-up according to the country’s assistant coach and rugby legend Mike Catt.
Burgess is in contention for promotion from the bench after impressing as a final-quarter replacement in the 35-11 victory over Fiji in Friday’s World Cup opener at Twickenham.
The 26-year-old’s direct running helped re-establish momentum at a time when England were drifting and he is among several players who are pushing for a start against Warren Gatland’s Wales on Saturday.
“What we saw against Fiji we’ve seen all along from Sam. We know what he brings,” attacking skills coach Catt said.
“We back Sam. Sam’s job on Friday was to come off the bench and cause the opposition problems and that’s exactly what he did. He’s a big-game player and a great competitor.”
When asked if Burgess, who has spent only 10 months in rugby union, would cope with starting against Wales, Catt replied: “Yes”.
Hype continues to build around the former rugby league star, and a call-up to the starting side would only add further intrigue to an upcoming clash against Australia, which symbolically falls on the same weekend he won an NRL premiership in the country last year.
England name their team for the Wales clash on Thursday morning with head coach Stuart Lancaster hinting strongly after the bonus-point victory over Fiji that changes will be made.
“There will be certain individuals who will be disappointed with their performances against Fiji, but there’s a lot of experience there to pull each other through and really give it a go,” Catt said.
“Richard Wigglesworth, Owen Farrell, Mako and Billy Vunipola – the whole bench came on and made a huge impact. From our point of view it’s exactly how we wanted it to unfold.
“The guys will come into camp and we’ll see how they train. We haven’t made any decisions yet.
“We know that defensively we’ll have to make sure we’re good in certain areas against Wales to stop their big runners off first phase.
“We’re massively excited about this game on Saturday, it’s exactly what the World Cup is about.
“It will probably be the biggest game a lot of the guys have ever played. It’s very, very exciting.”