England head coach Stuart Lancaster is convinced Sam Burgess will remain a rugby union player despite growing speculation he’ll return to rugby league after the World Cup.
Odds have been shortened on Burgess ending his cross-code adventure after only a year and one bookmaker has stopped taking bets altogether amid reports he is set to join Super League club Leeds Rhinos.
England crashed out of the World Cup with a 33-13 defeat by Australia on Saturday and the former South Sydney superstar’s contribution to the group campaign was one start and two replacement appearances.
The 26-year-old has been dropped from the matchday 23 for Saturday’s final match against Uruguay and there is a groundswell of opinion that he’s made his last England appearance.
However, Lancaster insists Burgess will not be ending his three-and-a-half-year contract after only 12 months.
“I’ve not had any conversations with him about a move to rugby league at all,” Lancaster said.
“Genuinely, 100 per cent I didn’t know that story was out there. My last conversation with him was about him going back to Bath. He can’t wait to get stuck into the Premiership.
“He feels he’s made good strides as a player and he wants to continue to improve. Bath will be delighted to have him back and I can’t see anything changing in that regard.”
Lancaster offered a glimpse into England’s future by naming a midfield trio of George Ford, Owen Farrell and Henry Slade against Uruguay. Chris Robshaw remains as openside and captain.
Completing the backline reshuffle for the death throes of the failed World Cup at Manchester City Stadium and are the selection of scrum-half Danny Care, wing Jack Nowell and full-back Alex Goode.
“Sam wasn’t picked because I want to have a look at this combination for this game,” Lancaster said.
“I’ve watched George and Owen since they were 18 and looked at them as an option and combination. Slade has had to wait but he’s a great one for the future.”