Sam Burgess will start his Bath career in the centres, but head coach Mike Ford still expects him to excel in the back-row.
South Sydney Rabbitohs star Burgess will switch codes to rugby union in October, joining Bath in a bid to break into Stuart Lancaster’s Rugby World Cup 2015 squad.
England view Dewsbury-born Burgess as a natural centre, while Bath’s aim to convert him into a loose forward raised potential tensions when the West Country club completed his signing in March.
Ford believes Bath and England are now “on the same wavelength” about Burgess’s transition from league to union, however.
Bath footed the entire bill to buy Burgess out of his long-term South Sydney contract, rejecting any financial assistance from the Rugby Football Union.
Ford said Bath will continue to call the shots on their high-profile recruit’s phased transition.
“We’ve got a plan for him now, but there’s so many variables,” said Ford ahead of Burgess’s expected October arrival at Bath.
“Clearly we’ll probably look at him in the centres first and foremost, let him learn the game from afar really.
“We’ve got a plan for him in the centres to start with, but my gut feeling is he will end up in the pack.
“Whether that will be Christmas, whether it will be Christmas 2015 who knows? He’s here for a long time so we’re not too worried about that.
“But if he’s doing 60 plays a game in the NRL then you don’t really want him playing on the wing do you, in rugby union.
“It’s important that when Sam comes we get the best out of Sam and what he can do, and what his qualities are.
“They’ve got nothing to do with him, the RFU have got no say in Sam’s development at Bath Rugby.”