THE BLOG

Slammin' Sam A Man Apart

18/02/2014 17:29 GMT | Updated 19/04/2014 10:59 BST

I was fortunate enough to see Sam Burgess in action early on in his career. I first saw him as a wet behind the ears forward playing for Bradford Bulls in Super League and even at such a young age you could tell he was a man apart.

In 2007 he was just 18 years old when he made his debut for Great Britain Rugby League and became a Youtube sensation when he knocked over the immensely powerful New Zealand forward Fuifui Moimoi with a tackle that would admittedly get him sent off in rugby union.

Yet through all this he was having to deal with tragedy at home. His father Mark, a former rugby league player and coach, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and with the eldest brother Luke away with the Leeds Rhinos it was forced upon Sam to become the man of the house.

For an 18 year old to have to take care of his father, his younger twin brothers George and Tom while also trying to establish himself in rugby league it must have taken immense courage and willpower and Sam Burgess has spoken vividly about how the experience matured him.

It would have taken a lot for him to leave the comforts of home and a close knit family unit to try his hand in National Rugby League with Russell Crowe's South Sydney Rabbitohs but it wasn't long before he became one of the stars of the NRL with his blockbusting performances in attack and defence and over the next few years he was joined by his brother's Luke, George and Tom in the South Sydney squad.

Physically he is a freak at 6 ft 5in tall and 18st but with pace and quick hands to match and it's no surprise that many in rugby union expect him to be in an England jersey sooner rather than later once he moves to Bath.

It is also easy to forget that Burgess is still only 25 years old yet has spent nearly a decade playing professional rugby league and has definitely not reached the peak of his abilities.

However it has to be remembered that Bath are the ones to have signed him and not the Rugby Football Union and therefore they will be the ones with the final say in his development and not the RFU. If they see him as a backrower (which some reports have suggested) then that could put pay to his ambitions of making the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

There's also the argument that England head coach Stuart Lancaster doesn't exactly lack for powerful ball carriers in midfield and the likes of Luther Burrell, Manu Tuilagi and Billy Twelvetrees are more than just blunt power options meaning that Burgess will not only need to come to terms with the subtleties of the game in a short period of time but also show that he can utilise his immense skills to be in with a chance of making the 2015 World Cup.

Sam Burgess is without doubt one of the best players in either code and I do think that someday the man mountain from Dewsbury will become the latest dual code international for England and while I wouldn't be surprised if he made it, I personally think that next year's World Cup is just a little too soon even for Slammin' Sam.

I'd be glad to be proven wrong though.