Sam Burgess’ time in Australian rugby league has given him an insight into the mentality the Wallabies will bring to Saturday’s decisive World Cup clash at Twickenham.
Only victory in the Pool A showdown will be enough to save England from the embarrassment of becoming the first host nation to exit the tournament at the group phase, a fate made possible by their 28-25 loss to Wales.
Burgess will be involved against Australia in some capacity, whether his role is as a starter or impact replacement will be revealed at tomorrow’s team announcement, and will be well known to the Rugby Championship holders.
The 26-year-old spent four seasons with the South Sydney Rabbitohs until switching codes to join Bath 11 months ago, becoming a star of the National Rugby League with his crowning moment arriving with victory over Canterbury Bulldogs a year ago.
He knows what is coming at Twickenham, but insists Australia should also be aware that England will be giving everything in the pursuit of saving their World Cup.
“Australia are very competitive, that’s in their nature, plus they’re playing England,” Burgess said.
“They will definitely come out of the blocks hard and fast. I know (Australia coach) Michael Cheika and I know him pretty well, he will be getting the guys fired up.
“I expect another great Test and challenge and it’s something to look forward to. There will not be many bigger occasions than this weekend.
“From us, Australia can expect heart. If there’s a time to put your body and heart on the line it’s this weekend. A winning attitude is what we need.”
Burgess followed a route into union that was trodden by Australia full-back Israel Folau, who has been predicted to become one of the stars of the World Cup.
“I’ve been watching a bit of footage on him and he’s an unbelievable athlete,” Burgess said.
“He can move off both feet, he’s strong, he’s able to break tackles, stand in tackles and make things happen, so he will certainly be a threat.
“He’s an all-round athlete and to play in three codes at professional level is quite unbelievable.
“He’s looking very comfortable in union and he’s enjoying his time. It will be tough to stop him on Saturday, but that’s the job we have to do.”
Burgess has given short shrift to the comments made by former England captain Will Carling that have caused a stir throughout Stuart Lancaster’s squad.
Carling reacted to the defeat by Wales by accusing Lancaster of creating a “classroom orientated environment” and treating the players as “schoolboys”.
“I’ve not seen Will around training, he’s not been around while I have been in so I’m not sure how much inside knowledge he has,” Burgess said.
“I guess there’s not much weight to what he’s saying, he’s making up his own thing, it’s his own opinion from the outside.
“It’s our environment. We don’t need to explain what it is because one person has made a comment. We’re comfortable with what we’re doing.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved