Monday 24 October 2016

Ireland legend Gordon D'Arcy hits out at 'naive' and 'embarrassing Burgess'

League convert is all at sea in centre position

Gordon D’Arcy: ‘Everything is there for the team to do well at the World Cup’
Gordon D’Arcy: ‘Everything is there for the team to do well at the World Cup’
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Sam Burgess of England is tackled by Scott Williams of Wales during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on September 26, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy has delivered a scathing assessment of Sam Burgess' performance against Wales by claiming his "naivety embarrassed those around him".

Burgess, who switched codes from rugby league last October, formed a surprise midfield trio alongside fly-half Owen Farrell and outside centre Bard Barritt for Saturday's 28-25 defeat at Twickenham.

England's management view the selection as a success, pointing out that it helped nullify the Welsh gainline threat with the hosts taking 10-point leads twice in the second half until a late implosion helped Warren Gatland's men snatch a famous win.

D'Arcy - who won 82 caps for Ireland as part of a famed centre partnership with his Leinster teammate Brian O'Driscoll - takes a different view, however, as England continue to come under attack ahead of their do-or-die clash with Australia on Saturday.

"Burgess lacks the sense of timing, in attack and defence, required to be effective at international level," D'Arcy wrote in a column for The Irish Times.

Sam Burgess in action

"His naivety embarrassed those around him and severely damaged England's chances of reaching the quarter-finals.

"(Head coach) Stuart Lancaster picked a league convert who doesn't know how to play inside centre for the biggest match England have played since the 2007 World Cup final.

"To compound the problem, Brad Barritt was out of position at 13 and exposed accordingly when it mattered most.

"By picking Owen Farrell, Burgess and Barritt, England didn't come to Twickenham to play rugby. We all knew this.

"Burgess never got to the pace against Wales. He clearly bust a gut but effort and strength were never going to be enough. Barritt was arguably worse and badly exposed for the Gareth Davies try.

"By then the Burgess experiment had been abandoned because the England coaching team accepted, long after everyone else, that he had no idea what was happening around him.

"All Burgess did was run straight in search of collisions with Jamie Roberts (who obliged but really conned him most of the time).

"Sam is a phenomenal athlete and clearly a fast learner. The damning question for Lancaster's England is: why were these learning curves taking place in the pool of death's must-win game?"

D'Arcy added that Luther Burrell should have been filling the role requested of Burgess as he has already "proved he can do what they hoped Burgess would do".



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