Sam Burgess approach denied by England union

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 13:50 03/02/2014
Sam Burgess
Getty Images
NO WORLD CUP: England rugby union officials have denied approaching South Sydney star Sam Burgess.

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England rugby union officials have denied approaching South Sydney star Sam Burgess, and say it would be up to him if he wanted to switch codes before next year's World Cup.

Burgess is understood to have discussed the idea of returning home to play in the Rugby World Cup while in England for the rugby league version of the event late last year and he has been linked to Bath.

However, Fairfax Media understands that Burgess is yet to receive any offer and neither he, his management, the RFU or Bath have approached the Rabbitohs about a release.

With Burgess contracted for a further three years, Souths could demand a transfer fee of more than $1 million to release him.

Burgess, 25, moved from. Bradford to the Rabbitohs in 2010 and his three brothers - Luke, George and Thomas - have since joined him at the club, while their mother Julie also lives in Sydney.

The idea of playing for England in the Rugby World Cup is believed to have come from a conversation he had with Great Britain and Wigan league great Andy Farrell, who switched codes in 2005 and is now a key member of the England coaching staff.

England league coach Steve McNamara was also approached to join Bath after the World Cup but is now an assistant to Trent Robinson at Sydney Roosters and would not want to lose Burgess from his Test team, which will contest the Four Nations in Australia and New Zealand at the end of the season.

If Bath table an offer for Burgess, it is understood the RFU would not be prepared to pay any compensation to Souths to assist his release.

"We have been made aware of the rumours about Sam Burgess' potential interest in playing rugby union. But we understand that he is under contract with the Rabbitohs and there has been no approach from the RFU to Sam, an RFU spokesman told the UK's Telegraph. "If it is true, it's a decision for Sam and others."

Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach, said: "I can't comment on it, other than the fact that I haven't, or no one from the RFU, has approached the Rabbitohs. We'll have to wait and see, it's not for me to decide. He's under contract at the Rabbitohs as far as I'm aware."

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