28 Aug 2015

Burgess makes England's World Cup squad

12:50 pm on 28 August 2015

Centres Sam Burgess and Henry Slade, who have each played only one international, have been included in England's rugby World Cup squad as coach Stuart Lancaster culled Six Nations regular Luther Burrell from his final 31-man group.

First five eighths Danny Cipriani, lock Dave Attwood, No.8 Nick Easter, flanker Calum Clark, prop Alex Corbisiero and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie also missed out.

Sam Burgess playing rugby union for England against France in 2015.

Sam Burgess playing rugby union for England against France in 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Burgess's inclusion caps a remarkable rise after he switched from rugby league at the start of the year and spent much of his early time in union playing as flanker.

Lancaster, however, has been hugely impressed by his physicality and big-match temperament and, after just over one hour's international action in the home warm-up against France, has trusted him to continue his progress in the white heat of a World Cup.

"Sam has done great," Lancaster told reporters.

"I wouldn't describe it as a gamble. I understand the size of this decision but I understand the size of every selection. I trust both him and Henry from what we've seen in camp. The impact they made on their debuts was impressive."

Slade made his debut alongside Burgess at Twickenham earlier this month and offers a classy, creative alternative in midfield and also covers No.10.

Jonathan Joseph and Brad Barritt are the other centres, leaving Burrell, a regular in the last two Six Nations, to make way.

The inclusion of Slade finally shut the door on Cipriani, who could not oust George Ford or Owen Farrell from the first-five berths or Mike Brown or Alex Goode from fullback.

"We felt with Henry and Sam as a duo they really impressed. Henry has been excellent for Exeter and has earned his stripes in the Premiership," Lancaster said.

"Sam's come in from a new code and both of them have absolutely trained the house down. They made two debuts I have not seen before. They've earned their place."

Ben Morgan, who made his first appearance in eight months against France at Twickenham following a broken leg, has seen off the challenge of Nick Easter as No.8 back-up to Billy Vunipola.

"With three weeks to go before we play Fiji (in the opening game of the World Cup) we believe we are in good shape as we head into the game against Ireland," Lancaster said of his final warm-up fixture, at Twickenham on September 5th.

Props: Kieran Brookes (Northampton Saints, 10 caps), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 51 caps), Joe Marler (Harlequins, 32 caps), Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 22 caps), David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 43 caps)

Hookers: Jamie George (Saracens, 1 cap), Rob Webber (Bath Rugby, 13 caps), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 23 caps)

Locks: George Kruis (Saracens, 8 caps), Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 23 caps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 39 caps), Geoff Parling (Exeter Chiefs, 24 caps)

Loose forwards: James Haskell (Wasps, 60 caps), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 28 caps), Chris Robshaw (captain, Harlequins, 38 caps), Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 18 caps), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 37 caps)

Halfbacks: Danny Care (Harlequins, 52 caps), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 22 caps), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 48 caps)

First five eighths: Owen Farrell (Saracens, 30 caps), George Ford (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)

Centres: Brad Barritt (Saracens, 22 caps), Sam Burgess (Bath Rugby, 1 cap), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 12 caps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 1 cap)

Outside backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins, 38 caps), Alex Goode (Saracens, 18 caps), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 15 caps), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 9 caps), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 10 caps)