Ireland rugby great Brian O’Driscoll believes Sam Burgess’ attacking game is below the standard required at international level and was more impressed by Henry Slade during England’s victory over France last week.
Former South Sydney superstar Burgess and Slade forged a new-look centre partnership as they made their Test debuts at Twickenham last Saturday in their only opportunity to advance claims for inclusion in Stuart Lancaster’s World Cup squad which will be named on August 31.
Lancaster has been tipped to select Burgess at the expense of Slade, whose intelligent passing helped set up two of the three tries in the 19-14 victory over France.
However, former British and Irish Lions captain O’Driscoll, who played inside and outside centre for Ireland in a glittering career, said it was Slade and not Burgess who caught his eye.
“Burgess has proper defensive X Factor, of that there’s no doubt,” O’Driscoll said on www.brianodriscoll.com.
“His tackle technique and strength in the hit were never in question and for me, he has just the right amount of thug in him to make having a go just a fleeting thought.
“When his team has the ball though, I just don’t think he’s quite up to speed at international level just yet.
“I said it last season watching him play for Bath that the difference between attack play in league and union is that in union the hard work starts when the player is tackled and the ruck forms.
“In league, the tackle completes the play with no rucking needed. Two very different mindsets.
“As much as all eyes were on the league convert, it was actually his centre partner that stole the show for me.”