FP – Sam Burgess has a shot at a second title across two codes in eight months when Bath face Saracens in the English rugby premiership final at Twickenham this weekend.
Burgess, the hero of South Sydney’s NRL triumph last October, will be hoping to enhance his England selection chances for this year’s Rugby World Cup after being included in their training squad.
But the league convert admits he’s pinching himself at the prospect of playing the biggest game of his fledgling rugby career on Saturday on the ground where the World Cup final will be played on October 31.
“Growing up in rugby league, Wembley is where you dream of playing, but Twickenham is an amazing stadium too and I can’t wait to be out on the field, rather than watching from the stands,” Burgess wrote in a Daily Mail column.
While there’s still debate about Burgess best position – inside centre or blindside flanker – he’ll pack down at blindside for Bath.
And he has received a ringing endorsement from Saracens’ bulldozing England No.8 Billy Vunipola who reckons the back row is the right position for 26-year-old Burgess.
“He’s a tremendous rugby player. I think the back row is probably his best position because of how strong he is and how he plays the game,” said Vunipola, who was born in Brisbane to Tongan parents.
“The shape and build of the guy is more suited to that position.
“He has a similar frame to (England centre) Manu Tuilagi but is not as quick.
“That’s probably one of his downfalls but he adds a different dimension to the back row with the lines he cuts.
“No offence to him, but he possibly wants to be one of the backs because it’s a little fancier but I see him in the forwards.”
Bath finished runners-up on the Premiership table while Saracens were fourth.
Bath, however, want to make sure their first Premiership final appearance since losing to Wasps in 2004 is not a bitter ending to a memorable season where they have re-established themselves as a real force.
Honours were even in the two Premiership games this season between the sides.
Bath’s England fly-half Ford, who hopes to be wearing the No.10 jersey when his country open their World Cup campaign against Fiji on September 18, said composure was the key to success on Saturday.
“Finals tend to be very tight and very tense, so a lot could come down to which team stays in control and on the right side of the referee,” Ford said.