“He knows that we’ve always seen him as a six and that’s something that he’s bought into,” Ford said. “It’s a pity he didn’t have the summer to learn, but he had his World Cup duties. He would have been farther down the track. We’re happy with where he is in terms of his position.
“We talked about this is the time where he makes great strides in rugby union. This is the time where he rolls his sleeves up and gets stuck in fully 100 per cent. We have got some really juicy games coming up that he can have a big impact on. He was quite excited by our fixture list coming up to Christmas.”
Initially, Ford had planned to use Burgess as a replacement in Bath’s opening two matches and then start the next two. However, the physical and emotional exertion of the World Cup soon caught up with the
26-year-old. “After the World Cup, it hits people in different ways,” Ford said. “Everyone is different and, with Sam, it was a case of go away, take 10 days off.”
Fellow England stars George Ford and Anthony Watson are likely to be rested this weekend but after that there is precious little leeway for players to be afforded a break during a condensed season of Premiership and European matches. That is then compounded by four England Tests at the end of the season, including a series in Australia, as well as a mooted Saxons tour to South Africa. “It’s brutal, just brutal,” Ford said.
It is open to question whether Steffon Armitage will be part of either tour. In an interview with Rugby World, the Toulon openside concurred with Nick Abendanon, who described the England players who had lobbied against calling up overseas players as “pathetic”.
“Definitely, I know them, played against them, and to hear them say we’d be a distraction if selected was pretty insulting,” Armitage said.