Burgess seeking more influence from back row

Sam Burgess, training with his Bath team mates.
Sam Burgess, training with his Bath team mates.
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Sam Burgess will continue his back-row education when Bath renew their push for home advantage in the Premiership play-offs by toppling London Irish at the Recreation Ground.

Former Bradford Bulls star Burgess, who began his union career at inside centre, is to make his second start at blindside flanker tonight after filling the position in the 29-19 victory over Newcastle two weeks ago.

Bath assistant coach Toby Booth insists the back row is where the former rugby league superstar’s club future lies, even if England – who retain an outside hope of him being involved in this year’s World Cup – are adamant his skills are better suited to the No 12 jersey.

“We’ve made no secret of the plan for Sam. He would be involved in the game 50 or 60 times a match in rugby league. Compare that to a rugby union centre and that would be about a third,” Booth said.

“Sam wants to be in the game and be influential in games. He really enjoyed that element of being in the back row against Newcastle.”

Captain Stuart Hooper and centre Kyle Eastmond return from injury as Bath seek to supplant Saracens in second place with the clubs currently level on 61 points.

Irish are hoping to build on their 25-23 victory over Sale a fortnight ago knowing victory could see them climb above Gloucester in the table.

Harlequins have signed Samoa’s Winston Stanley for next season.

The 26-year-old centre will leave New Zealand Super Rugby franchise the Highlanders to join Quins for the start of next term.

He is the younger brother of All Blacks star Benson Stanley, and the cousin of former Everton footballer Tim Cahill.

Former Wales full-back Lee Byrne has been forced to retire after failing to recover from a shoulder injury.

The former Scarlets and Ospreys star won 46 caps for Wales after making his debut in 2005.