Quit league for union, Israel Folau advises Sam Burgess
February 13, 2014
Sam Burgess will make the transition to rugby union "no problems", Israel Folau says © PA Photos
Israel Folau has urged Sam Burgess to quit rugby league for rugby union, saying the Englishman will "make the transition no problems".
Burgess has been subject recently of is he-isn't reports linking him with a move to union, with Bath Rugby to be his destination in a bid to earn England selection for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. England coach Stuart Lancaster met Burgess in August, while on a fact-finding mission to Australia, but he has been quick to distance the Rugby Football Union from any approach to the rugby league star.
"Clearly he is a world-class rugby league player," Lancaster said recently of Burgess. "But as with any player who wants to make a transition, it is going to be difficult in a short space of time. Given the competitiveness of the squad we've got at the moment, any new player coming in would have to earn their right - as everyone else has done - by playing high-quality, consistent, top-level Premiership rugby."
But cross-code convert Folau, a success at Super Rugby level with New South Wales Waratahs and in Test football with the Wallabies in his first season in union, is unabashed in advising the league star to quit the 13-man game.
"I really think he can [succeed in union], if that's what he wants to do," Folau told News Corp. "He has got a great work ethic, I'm sure if he's making the decision to come over that is what he really wants to do, and he'll make the transition no problems."
Burgess will require a release from the final two years of his National Rugby League contract with South Sydney Rabbitohs if he is to switch to union in 2014, but Lancaster is adamant the NRL star faces "a challenge, big time" if he moves this year to bid for 2015 Rugby World Cup selection "because of the nature of learning the sport and everything else that goes with it".
Lancaster said the 2019 tournament would be a more realistic aim as "there's a bigger picture about developing a team that goes way beyond 2015 as well", but Folau was excited about the prospect of facing Burgess when the Wallabies played England in the 2015 pool stage.
"A World Cup is one of the biggest experiences you can get in world sport, that is something I am really excited about," Folau told News Corp. "For Sam, if he does decide to come over, those are the type of things he'll be experiencing if he is in the game long-term."
Folau said also that he could not have envisaged the world experience he would gain when he switched to union, and he said that would be a key sales point for Burgess.
"For me coming out of league, it is a good game that I enjoyed, but when you're playing rugby it expands out to the world," Folau told News Corp. "You're going to different countries that I never imagined I would see or play in, different stadiums I wouldn't have played in if I was still in league. That is something he'd experience."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Former British No.1 Elena Baltacha has revealed she has been diagnosed with cancer of the liver
Stuart Lancaster has said the time for talking is over and called on England to deliver a big performance when they face Wales on Sunday.
Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes will show its true potential this year as he heads to the first race of the season confident of success
Paul McGinley has hinted that English players could provide the backbone of his Ryder Cup team when Europe welcome America to Gleneagles in September.
Pirelli has released its in-season testing schedule, detailing when teams will work with the tyre manufacturer during test days this year
With just two rounds left in the 2014 championship, the intensity cranks up a notch at Twickenham. Tom Hamilton previews the weekend's action
Only Chelsea and Liverpool can win the Premier League this season, despite Jose Mourinho's claims
Australian Rugby Union officials in recent times have "lacked authority" when negotiating with New Zealand and South Africa, and they need to show "more backbone" when pushing national causes, Greg Growden reports
Tottenham have not won a game at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea since 1990, but there revival under Tim Sherwood could see them upset the odds in this London derby
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year
Cristiano Ronaldo has played down his latest record, claiming landmarks come naturally to him
Eden Hazard believes he can surpass Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to be the best player in the world - but knows he needs to be twice the player he is at the moment to achieve his goal
Samir Nasri insists Arsene Wenger is a "magician" and believes criticism of his former manager about his lack of trophies is unfair
Mesut Ozil continued to face criticism as he was jeered by a section of Germany fans during his nation's 1-0 friendly win over Chile in Stuttgart
David Moyes was in attendance for France's 2-0 friendly win against the Netherlands in Paris on Wednesday to scout Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba as he considers how to rebuild his Manchester United squad
Join Gareth Davies, Ben Blackmore and Chris Park each week for the latest news, views and debate from the UFC
Once prone to putting his head down and looking the other way when walking past fans on the street, Andy Murray is finding lots of reasons to look them in the eye
'I'm glad that Vasyl Lomachenko is a pro and I'm also glad that he lost on Saturday,' writes ESPN's resident boxing expert Steve Bunce
The waiting is finally over after it was announced that 82-year-old Nick Bollettieri will be enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame later this summer