England fail to help Burgess crack code

Mur­ray charges past Fer­rer to reach Paris fi­nal

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: As if pre­sid­ing over the first host na­tion to suf­fer a pool-phase exit at a World Cup was not bad enough, Sam Burgess’s re­turn to rugby league af­ter just a year in rugby union will fur­ther un­der­mine England coach Stu­art Lan­caster.

It was al­ways ask­ing a lot of Burgess, head­ing back to the South Syd­ney Rab­bitohs, barely 12 months af­ter help­ing the club win the Aus­tralian NRL Grand Fi­nal, to be­come a fully fledged union in­ter­na­tional in such a short space of time.

And it be­came all the more dif­fi­cult when, in the ab­sence of a cen­tral con­tract, club side Bath and England saw his union fu­ture in two dif­fer­ent po­si­tions.

Bath played him mainly as a flank for­ward, while England saw him as an in­side cen­tre-a key play­mak­ing po­si­tion in the back­line. Be­cause the two rugby codes are played with an oval-shaped ball, it is easy to think the only key dif­fer­ence be­tween them is that there are 15 play­ers in a union team and 13 in a league one.

Yet while a tackle in league sees play halted, in union it is the start of a con­test for pos­ses­sion. Mean­while the line-out, an­other im­por­tant area for union for­wards, sim­ply does not ex­ist in league.

Burgess, try­ing to master two of union’s most de­mand­ing po­si­tions and a com­plex rule­book, made just one start and two ap­pear­ances off the bench PARIS: World num­ber three Andy Mur­ray reached his maiden Paris Masters fi­nal when he over­pow­ered Span­ish eighth seed David Fer­rer 6-4 6-3 de­spite a few off lapses yes­ter­day.

The Bri­tish sec­ond seed lost his fo­cus at times but even­tu­ally had too much for the 2012 Bercy cham­pion as he set up a show­down with either world num­ber one No­vak Djokovic or French Open cham­pion Stanis­las Wawrinka. “I man­aged to shorten a lot of the points. There was some va­ri­ety in there with the way the points fin­ished, which was pleas­ing for me,” Mur­ray told a news con­fer­ence. dur­ing the World Cup. He cer­tainly did not cost England a quar­ter-fi­nal place. In the key de­feat by Wales, hav­ing done an ad­mirable de­fen­sive job and been a use­ful de­coy run­ner in build-up to a try, his side were lead­ing when Burgess came off only for the Welsh to rally late on.

But his un­de­ni­able phys­i­cal power and pres­ence could not dis­guise his lack of ease in his England role, with vet­eran Ire­land cen­tre Gor­don D’Arcy’s with­er­ing cri­tique that Burgess “doesn’t know how to play in­side cen­tre” sadly prov­ing all too ac­cu­rate.

‘Doesn’t know’

That Burgess’s in­clu­sion in the World Cup squad came at the ex­pense of ex­pe­ri­enced cen­tre Luther Bur­rell, who up un­til the tour­na­ment had been one of the main­stays of Lan­caster’s three years as England coach, all added to the sense of a need­less gam­ble.

There was a hope in some quar­ters that Burgess might do for Lan­caster what fleet-footed former rugby league star Ja­son Robin­son did for Clive Wood­ward’s World Cup-win­ning England side of 2003.

Robin­son, how­ever, was a wing, a po­si­tion in which there is the least dif­fer­ence be­tween the two codes, and he had two years of in­ter­na­tional rugby union be­hind him when England won the World Cup.

“What hap­pened re­ally was he (Burgess) was

“I dic­tated a lot of the points and I fin­ished a lot of points up at the net and was able to shorten enough points to not make it too tir­ing.” Mur­ray made a dream start, break­ing to love in the first game, but Fer­rer was spurred into ac­tion and the Spa­niard lev­elled for 3-3 when two Mur­ray un­forced er­rors gave him a break in the sixth game.

In a see-saw open­ing set, Fer­rer set up four more break points in the eighth game but Mur­ray saved them all and went on to steal his op­po­nent’s serve as the Spa­niard made a string of un­forced er­rors. The Scot fin­ished a su­perb asked to play either at flanker for his club or cen­tre for England-two of the most dif­fi­cult po­si­tions to play rugby, with a con­stant 80 min­utes of de­ci­sion-mak­ing,” former England union fly-half Stu­art Barnes told Sky Sports.

“It’s not a mark of fail­ure for Burgess not to have cracked it in un­der a year.” Barnes added: “What it does do is ques­tion England’s blind de­ter­mi­na­tion to force him in, when it was al­ways go­ing to be a race against time.”

For all that England as­sis­tant coach Andy Farrell, an­other cross-code con­vert, was in the fir­ing line over Burgess’s rapid pro­mo­tion, Lan­caster-bid­ding to stay in post as England re­view a woe­ful World Cup cam­paign-will have to carry the can.

“It leaves Stu­art Lan­caster in a very ten­u­ous po­si­tion,” said Barnes.

“I don’t think he was the most con­vinced of the England coaches about the qual­i­ties of Sam Burgess for this year, but the fact is Stu­art Lan­caster had the fi­nal say and he se­lected him in the 31 (man squad).”

So long as union re­mains the higher pro­file in­ter­na­tional sport, more league play­ers can be ex­pected to switch codes-the traf­fic was all the other way when union was an am­a­teur game.

But they must hope for more sym­pa­thetic treat­ment, and above all, more time than England gave Burgess or, in­deed, Burgess gave him­self. —AFP ex­change at the net with a fine sliced lob to set up two set points and on the first one Fer­rer net­ted a rou­tine back­hand.

In typ­i­cally tena­cious fash­ion Fer­rer got straight back down to busi­ness and raced to a 3-1 lead in the sec­ond set. But dou­ble grand slam cham­pion Mur­ray found his range again, pro­duc­ing some im­prob­a­ble an­gles as he won five games in a row, wrap­ping up the vic­tory on his first match point when Fer­rer net­ted an at­tempted drop shot. Mur­ray will be guar­an­teed fin­ish­ing the year sec­ond in the ATP rank­ings for the first time if he wins the ti­tle. — Reuters

TOULON: Montpellier’s Oleg Ishchenko, right, tries to tackle Toulon’s (RCT) new re­cruit, Tom Tay­lor of New-Zealand, dur­ing the Top 14 fi­nal rugby match be­tween Toulon and Montpellier, at the Mayol sta­dium, in Toulon, South­ern France, yes­ter­day. — AP

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