Luther gets ready to rum­ble

Warwickshire Telegraph - - SPORT - Duncan Bech

ex­tremely im­pres­sive.

When told that his suc­cess rate was three per cent higher than that of re­turn­ing prodigal Danny Cipri­ani, whose sta­tus as Sale’s main kicker in­cluded a good num­ber of much sim­pler kicks, a smile briefly crosses Daly’s face. How­ever, the pro­fes­sional fa­cade is quickly re­sumed as he as­sesses his per­for­mances with the boot. LUTHER Bur­rell is ready for the “big col­li­sions” that await in Aus­tralia as he tar­gets a start­ing role as Eng­land’s mid­field bat­ter­ing ram for the first Test against the Wal­la­bies.

Bur­rell has been cho­sen ahead of Ol­lie Devoto to re­place the in­jured Manu Tuilagi in the 32-man squad that heads Down Un­der on Tues­day fol­low­ing a try-scor­ing per­for­mance in the 27-13 vic­tory over Wales at Twick­en­ham

The Bris­bane opener on Satur­day week is now a re­al­is­tic ob­jec­tive for Bur­rell, who could be the ben­e­fi­ciary if head coach Ed­die Jones drops the un­der­per­form­ing Ge­orge Ford in favour of mov­ing Owen Far­rell from in­side cen­tre to fly-half.

Un­capped rugby league con­vert Ben Te’o and rookie Henry Slade are the al­ter­na­tives at 12, giv­ing Bur­rell hope of mak­ing the sec­ond ap­pear­ance of his Test come­back since be­ing con­tro­ver­sially omit­ted from the squad for last au­tumn’s World Cup.

If Jones opts for the 28-year-old Saint, his pri­mary role will be to use his strength to punch holes in the Wal­la­bies’ de­fence.

“Against Wales you could see soon as we get on the front-foot, we want to pound the gain­line,” said Bur­rell. “You are putting your body on the line, you are go­ing to take col­li­sions and some of the con­tacts against Wales were mas­sive.

“We know that with the back-row Aus­tralia

“I think 65 per cent is a lit­tle low, and I would like to im­prove it,” he says.

“It is some­thing I have been work­ing on, and I’ve taken prob­a­bly three times the amount of kicks this year com­pared with past years.

“It feels like I have got some of the harder ones and missed the eas­ier ones, so I need to have a look at that, and work have, we are go­ing to take some big col­li­sions. It’s a high tempo, high in­ten­sity game plan that we want to have in place. It was fan­tas­tic to get back for Eng­land. I’m go­ing to en­joy ev­ery mo­ment and op­por­tu­nity I get.

“Ed­die he will be pick­ing the play­ers who are per­form­ing and train­ing best. I will con­tinue work­ing hard, keep grounded and work closely with the coaches and grasp any op­por­tu­nity I can get.”

Bur­rell was omit­ted from the first squad named by Jones in Jan­uary on the grounds of be­ing “grossly over­weight”, so while Eng­land were com­plet­ing their first Grand Slam since 2003 he be­gan shed­ding the 8kgs de­manded by the Aus­tralian.

“The beauty of Ed­die is that he’s a very hon­est bloke. If you’re not pulling your weight then he won’t beat around the bush, he will tell you,” said Bur­rell. “He’s been in con­stant con­tact with me – he’s been bril­liant with me and my devel­op­ment.

“He’s a fan­tas­tic bloke and the way we want to play, we want to be at the high­est in­ten­sity and tak­ing teams to a place they don’t re­ally like.”

Eng­land land in Aus­tralia on to­mor­row evening and will spend the fol­low­ing week with the kick­ing coach to get as many as pos­si­ble. It’s good to add to a team as much you can, so if tak­ing long-range kicks is my role then I’ll work on it and hope­fully kick a few goals in the course of the sea­son and see where it takes me.

“The more you can do in a game the bet­ter, and the more skills I can jug­gle will hope­fully hold me in good stead.” ac­cli­ma­tis­ing on the Gold Coast be­fore mov­ing to Bris­bane for the first Test against the beaten World Cup fi­nal­ists.

“It’s go­ing to be a very tough chal­lenge, Eng­land have won three in 17 games over there. It’s a huge chal­lenge, we’re un­der no il­lu­sions about that, but we’re in a bril­liant po­si­tion,” said Bur­rell. Com­ing off the back of the Six Na­tions and the good per­for­mance against Wales, we have some mo­men­tum be­hind us but we need to work hard and play bet­ter if we are go­ing to stand a chance of beat­ing Aus­tralia.

“We are go­ing to have to work hard, the boys are go­ing to have to dig deep to get some vic­to­ries over there, but we are qui­etly con­fi­dent.”

Jones said: “It’s a great op­por­tu­nity for Luther, who played re­ally well against Wales. He car­ried the ball well, de­fended with ag­gres­sion and scored an ex­cel­lent try. We want play­ers who are des­per­ate to play for their coun­try and are will­ing to make the sac­ri­fices needed to suc­ceed at the high­est level.

“Luther’s worked hard at his game since Jan­uary and we’ve seen a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in his fit­ness and con­di­tion­ing as a re­sult. He thor­oughly de­serves his place on the tour.

“It was a tough se­lec­tion call. Ol­lie Devoto has re­ally im­pressed dur­ing his re­cent time in the Eng­land camp. We wish him a suc­cess­ful tour to South Africa with the Sax­ons.”

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