Eddie Jones has slammed England Rugby’s handling of code-hopper Sam Burgess after the former NRL star’s disappointing World Cup campaign.
Jones, who has been mentioned as a possible replacement for England coach Stuart Lancaster, questioned how Burgess could be picked in the nation’s World Cup squad after playing just one Test match.
“If England thought Sam Burgess was good enough to play in the World Cup, then they should have started to play him in the Six Nations,” the former Wallabies coach told Sky Sports in England.
“They should have played him in two or three of those games and given him some more experience so come the World Cup, you know what you are going to get.”
Burgess’ preparations were further hindered when he was routinely swapped from inside centre to No.6 at English club Bath and back to No.12 by England.
The 26-year-old was widely criticised for his performances in England’s miserable campaign and looked totally lost in the midfield.
“The guy obviously has talent and is a magnificent footballer,” said Jones who coached Japan at the World Cup.
“What he isn’t at the moment is a magnificent rugby footballer – you only get that through experience.”
Burgess, who is currently on leave from Bath while he sorts his future, has been linked with a return to the NRL with South Sydney while the Super League’s Leeds Rhinos are also reportedly chasing the 2014 Clive Churchill Medallist.
However, Bath coach Mike Ford remains adamant Burgess will stay in the 15-man game, despite his attendance at an English Rugby League Test match on Saturday.
“Last week, Sam came back into training because, initially, that’s what he wanted but then he did and he didn’t quite feel right,” Ford told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Thursday.
“We decided to give him time off there and then, which means that he’s gone away to get refreshed and will be back in training on November 2.
“There are no dramas here. Everyone has put two and two together, seen him sitting next to (England rugby league coach) Steve McNamara, watching his brother play rugby league.
“The plan is for him to come back to training on Monday and we can’t wait to have him back.”