World Cup

Lancaster: No winner from Burgess selection

Stuart Lancaster might not have called Sam Burgess into England's Rugby World Cup squad had he known the 27-year-old would return to rugby league after the tournament.

Burgess was selected for Lancaster's 31-man squad despite only a brief spell in rugby union with Bath, and he struggled to make an impact during the World Cup.

He was not the only one, though, as the hosts were dumped out at the pool stage.

Lancaster was full of praise for Burgess – who returned to NRL with South Sydney Rabbitohs – despite the controversy surrounding his selection, but admits he may not have picked him had he known what would happen.

"It's a shame for everyone really. I don't think there was any winner in the end," he told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek.

"Clearly, hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I'd known he was going to go back to rugby league then my decisions would have been different, but we didn't know that at the time.

"He was a great and positive influence on the group. He worked hard and earned the right, in our minds, to be in the squad."

Lancaster also revealed more around Burgess' original switch to the 15-man code, and that the initial enquiry had come from the player himself.

He added: "I think there's a perception that I somehow went on a crusade to try and recruit him from rugby league. 

"Actually, what happened was I went to Australia and watched a game [Australia v New Zealand] and I popped in to see various coaches along the way.

"One of those was [Rabbitohs head coach] Michael Maguire and Sam pulled me on the way out and said 'do you fancy a coffee?'

"We had a chat and he said 'I want to have a think about playing rugby union, how do I go about doing it?'"