Burgess set to stake World Cup claim during international bow

Ross McLean
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OPPORTUNITY knocks for rugby league convert Sam Burgess to fast-track his claims for a place in England head coach Stuart Lancaster’s World Cup plans after being named in the Saxons’ side to face the Irish Wolfhounds tonight.

Code-switcher Burgess is set to make his international rugby union debut at inside centre for England’s second string, with Elliot Daly of Wasps joining the 26-year-old in midfield and Chris Ashton and Marland Yarde on the wings.

The form of Burgess has been placed in particular focus given England’s biting injury woes ahead of the Six Nations opener with Wales a week today, with Billy Twelvetrees and Jonathan Joseph currently the only fit centres in the senior squad.

Brad Barritt and Kyle Eastmond are expected to miss the Cardiff clash, although Northampton’s Luther Burrell is set to return to training today following concussion.

Tight-head prop Kieran Brookes, meanwhile, has been called into the senior squad as cover for David Wilson, who is being treated for a neck problem and will be unable to train today.

London Irish’s Shane Geraghty is also training with the group. Lancaster said: “I didn’t want to cause any further disruption to the Saxons so Shane’s addition helps us to train with appropriate numbers.”