Waking up on a Monday morning to read the news that one of the most naturally talented English Rugby League players ever has decided to switch codes and join the Aviva Premiership is a great way to start the day. Sam Burgess is the man under the spotlight, at 25 he has a devastating try score record for his country scoring 7 tries in his 13 appearances for England, he made 88 appearances for his home club Bedford before heading down under and making another 70 (and counting) for the Rabbitiohs.
The question is why are we all so excited about Sam’s move when history shows us that converts often struggle to live up to their anticipated hype? Well the answer has to lie with the man himself… you only need to spend a very short time on YouTube or watch a single Rabbitiohs game to see the Sam’s raw talent, drive and power is extraordinary. The timing of his move adds to the excitement, Sam is not switching codes to prolong a career in professional sport, he is switching during his prime, at a time when he is at his most devastating and that is what is so thrilling about this move.
Slammin’ Sam… a nickname that he has developed over the years and one which no doubt will stick with him at Bath, is a prolific Rugby League forward and we are told that the idea is for Sam to develop into game changing, match winning inside centre. At Bath his centre partner could be the amazing freak of nature that is Matt Banahan or the electrically fast Jonathan Joseph or fellow cross coder Kyle Eastmond, not bad options really!!? However look a step further on and welcome to the picture Mr Manu Tuilagi… a Burgess/Tuilagi partnership is the stuff that dreams are made of… my goodness me!!
Many are already siting the 2015 World Cup as the showcase for this devastating partnership, however with Sam arriving in October you wonder whether a few months is enough time to learn a completely new code and become world class at it!? Maybe not for some however you have to remember that this man is a phenomenal athlete, he has the softest of hands on the strongest of bodies and a winning attitude to go with it… you do get the sense that anything really is possible. As mentioned at the start we may have witnessed a number of converts over the years who fell short of the mark however I, like so many, am predicting that Sam will not be one of those. Instead he has the ability to join those game changing, world cup winning players like Israel Folau, Sonny Bill Williams and Jason Robinson. These are the players that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, they do things that so many can only dream of and they are ones that you need to have if success is to be achieved.
For now Sam remains Down Under, finishing off his season… I suspect that the ratings for the Rabbitiohs’ games may just go up just slightly and certainly come October this year all eyes will be firmly locked on The Rec to see just what Mr Burgess can achieve.