Crowe gets shirty over Burgess

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Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Hollywood actor and director Russell Crowe insists Sam Burgess should have been fast-tracked into the England team despite the indifferent start to his union career.

Crowe persuaded Burgess to leave Bradford Bulls for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2009 – a club the New Zealand-born star has supported since a child and now co-owns.

Burgess’ move met a scripted ending last October when the rugby league club won their first Premiership for 43 years.

Since switching codes, Burgess has been unable to impose himself in the same way for Bath and endured a disappointing evening against the Irish Wolfhounds on his debut for England’s second string Saxons four weeks ago.

A brief spell training with Stuart Lancaster’s RBS 6 Nations squad has been the 26-year-old’s only senior involvement, but Crowe believes it is only a matter of time before he makes his presence felt.

“Never bet against Sam Burgess when faced with a challenge, that’s what I’d say. Sam is a fine young man and is just going to get better,” Crowe said.

“If I was anything to do with English rugby union, I’d just select him in my squad because he’s a very fast learner.

“You want your top 30 athletes representing the country and he has to be among the top 30 athletes in rugby union right now.”

Burgess is regularly approached after Bath games by Rabbitohs fans seeking an autograph for their jerseys and Crowe has his own thoughts on why this is happening even in England.

“It’s because the Bath shirt is kind of sh***y! And it needs an essential redesign,” said Crowe, who was speaking at a private viewing in central London of his directorial debut The Water Diviner.

“As soon as I saw him wearing it I thought ‘no, no, no – I should talk to those guys about their jersey’.”

Burgess’ place in South Sydney folklore is secure after playing through the pain barrier to help defeat the Canterbury Bulldogs in last year’s NRL final.

Just six seconds into the game he shattered his eye socket during an injury that later needed five metal plates to repair the damage to his cheekbone, yet he still finished as man of the match.

Crowe insists that if Burgess’ union career does not work out, he is welcome back at the Rabbitohs.

“Sam is a son of South Sydney. He’s a South Sydney warrior. There is absolutely no way to remove our club from his heart, or him from our hearts,” Crowe said.

Crowe and Burgess will attend Sunday night’s World Club Challenge when South Sydney face Super League champions St Helens at Langtree Park.

Published: Friday 20th February 2015 by The News Editor

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