League star would rock in union

The New Zealand Herald's Chris Rattue says Sam Burgess could make a big impact in rugby union, but may not have enough time to settle in before the 2015 World Cup.

Burgess, the best forward in rugby league, is reportedly set to sign with Bath with the aim of playing for England at next year's global showpiece.

'He would be a tremendous loss to league,' writes Rattue. 'The immediate problem is timing. He would be landing his considerable frame in the deep end. There was no suggestion of what position he would play. The forwards is a tougher transition and, at a guess, No 8 suits his build, athleticism and skills.

'If Burgess obtained a contract release from the [South Sydney] Rabbitohs at the end of this year, he would have less than one full northern season to adapt before the World Cup, and without the benefit of any rest or pre-season preparation time. The final round of the NRL coincides with the beginning of union's club programme in England, and the Rabbitohs will likely make the NRL finals. Burgess isn't the type to do a sneaky mid-season runner the way Sonny Bill Williams did.'

Rattue believes Burgess could make a successful transition to union.

'Despite its frustrating inadequacies as a spectator sport, rugby has far more international clout and resources than league. Burgess is a tremendous competitor, and a rare athlete with amazing power. Given the right circumstances, he would be a rugby sensation if he could cope with all the stoppages. At the age of 25, there is plenty of time and Burgess would be a coup for union with more to come. England back Sam Tomkins, the Warriors' new recruit, is open about his intention to join brother Joel as a rugby international.'

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Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

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