England head coach Stuart Lancaster believes the conundrum of where to play Sam Burgess may be solved by casting in the role of “hybrid centre”.
Uncapped rugby league convert Burgess has been included in Lancaster’s 50-man training squad for the home World Cup with debate continuing to rage over what is his best position.
Bath have picked the 26-year-old at blindside flanker in recent weeks and he has responded by playing his best rugby of his six months in the new code, but England have previously stated that they view inside centre as his most natural home.
Lancaster has hinted at a softening of that position, however, by suggesting Burgess could operate in a similar capacity to Australia’s outstanding openside Michael Hooper.
“Sam is in a pretty unique situation. I can’t think of another player who’s played club rugby at Premiership level in the forwards and backs,” Lancaster said.
“The only probable scenario I can equate it to is the way the Waratahs are playing Michael Hooper at the moment - he’s playing almost as a hybrid centre.
“You look at the way they’re using him in their games recently - he’s so powerful and so dynamic. He could play centre or back row. And Sam’s probably in that position.
“We’re pretty open-minded. We certainly believe he can play in the centre.”