UNSETTLED dual-code international Sam Burgess will be “a loss” to rugby union if he decides to return to league, believes former Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield.
Sinfield hit out at former players who criticised Burgess over his involvement in England’s disastrous Rugby World Cup campaign.
Sinfield is the latest high-profile league player to try his hand at union, but his switch has come at a time when Burgess is being strongly linked with a return to the 13-a-side code.
Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington has confirmed the Challenge Cup holders and Super League champions are keen to sign Burgess and are willing to pay a transfer fee to his club Bath.
But Sinfield, who is in his first full week of training with Yorkshire Carnegie, believes union is in danger of wasting an outstanding talent.
“I have to say, I think he has done extremely well,” said Sinfield. “To play in a World Cup after 12 months is remarkable. It would be a huge waste (to union). Possibly they don’t realise what they’ve got on their hands at the minute.
“I am sure (coaches) Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell and everyone involved in England do and I’m sure Mike Ford at Bath does as well. It is really easy to criticise and I think the big disappointment from a lot of people who know Sam is the number of ex-players who have come out who don’t know him and don’t understand enough about him and have had a bit of a pop at him and a cheap shot towards him. I think it would be a huge loss to rugby union if they lost him, but having said that, I am a rugby league supporter as well and it would be great to see him back in the game.”
Sinfield, who admitted it is probably too early for him to make his union debut for Carnegie at Bedford on Saturday, believes Leeds are the only Super League club Burgess would consider joining. “It would be huge to have him back in Yorkshire and at Leeds,” he said.
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