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The Other Oval Ball Converts

28/11/2014 11:40 GMT | Updated 27/01/2015 10:59 GMT

With the news this week that Sam Burgess is set to make his rugby union debut for Bath in this Friday's Aviva Premiership match against Harlequins, it's the first chance to see how the latest big name rugby league convert does in the XV man game.

Burgess is following a pretty impressive list of league talent to have crossed over to rugby union and there was a time before rugby turned fully professional where you were more likely to see a move in the opposite direction.

However the cross-code switch between union and league is one we're all familiar with. Less so are the moves from union or league to Australian rules or American football.

Below are just five occasions, both past and present, where such a move has occurred.

Mike Pyke: Not necessarily a name known to many in rugby union (unless you're an aficionado of Canadian Rugby or Edinburgh Rugby from the early to mid-2000s) however he does have the distinction of having scored a length of the field try away from home against New Zealand in 2007. Pyke would go onto play 22 times for Canada scoring six tries before making the move to AFL in 2008 with the Sydney Swans after a series of injuries. The big Canadian has answered sceptics with 90 appearances for the Swans since his move and was part of the Sydney side that won the 2012 AFL Grand Final.

Israel Folau: Before making his highly anticipated move to union, the gifted Folau spent two seasons with the Australian rules expansion side Greater Western Sydney Giants, one of which was in the AFL. Having already played for both Queensland and Australia as a teen his move was certainly a shock and it was by no means a success. The former Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos star then crossed to his third oval ball code in 2013 and has firmly established himself as one of the best attacking threats in world rugby with 17 tries in 28 caps to date.

Hayden Smith: Again not a player that many will likely know about but the Australian-born American international came to rugby and American football by a fairly roundabout route. Having moved to the United States of America in 2002 to play college basketball, he didn't play competitive rugby till 2008. After an impressive start to his union career in America, Smith was signed by Saracens and made his debut for USA Eagles in the same year. Four years later and the big second rower tried his hand at American football and was drafted by the New York Jets in 2012 after workouts with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints. After making five appearances in the NFL for the Jets in 2012 he re-signed for Saracens in 2013.

Richard Tardits: Another USA Eagles player, Tardits was born in Biarritz, the home of French rugby legend Serge Blanco, and was good enough to represent France at Under-21 level before crossing the Atlantic and making his American football debut for the University of Georgia. He earned the nickname 'Le Sack' for a then school record 29 career quarterback sacks during his time in Georgia. After being drafted by Phoenix Cardinals in 1989 he moved to the New England Patriots a year later where he made 27 appearances in the NFL over three seasons. Tardits had continued to play rugby in the off-season and made his debut for the USA Eagles in 1993 earning 24 international caps in total including two at 1999 Rugby World Cup.

Karmichael Hunt: Another three oval ball codes convert, the former Brisbane Broncos utility back was also a Queensland and Australia representative before signing for Biarritz in 2009. After just two seasons with the then Top 14 side, Hunt made the move across to Australian rules with Gold Coast and made his AFL debut in 2011. After some solid initial performances, his final two seasons were marred by injury and when his move back to rugby union with the Queensland Reds was announced his time in Australian rules was met with mixed reviews.