In Depth

Sam Burgess: England World Cup fall out made me quit union

Former Bath star says his heart was not in union and World Cup 'blame game' made him feel unwanted

One can only wonder what Luther Burrell makes of Sam Burgess's admission that when it came to rugby union his "heart just wasn't in it".

Burgess made the confession in an open letter in the pages of the Daily Mail explaining why he had decided to turn his back on union after just a year to return to the game he really loves – rugby league.

During his 12 months playing the 15-man code Burgess became a divisive figure, and England coach Stuart Lancaster's decision to include the burly Yorkshireman in his World Cup squad caused huge controversy. It is also likely to cost him the England job.

Burgess, who played as a forward for his club side Bath, was included as a centre in Lancaster's squad at the expense of Burrell, who had forced his way into the England team in 2014 and played every game in the 2015 Six Nations.

England's midfield selection policy during the World Cup became a shambles, as it became clear that no-one was sure of the first-choice midfield, and Burgess was at the heart of the confusion. He was drafted in to play against Wales, but was left out of the game against Australia as England limped out of their own tournament in the group stage.

And it appears that Burgess did not enjoy being England's fall-guy and hinted that all was not well in the England camp during the tournament.

"I felt like certain people didn't want England and Stuart Lancaster to succeed," he writes. "I was right in the middle of that and it is unbelievable. It's not a productive place to be... I didn't want to stay in a sport like that. It makes it harder to build on when people from the inside are crumbling.

"We finished at the World Cup and I was deflated with the way things had gone and how the 'blame game' was played out and dealt with. It made me question whether I wanted to be part of it. I felt I was never going to win, regardless of what happened."

He also made it clear that his decision to return to Australia to play league for the South Sydney Rabbitohs had not been well-received in some quarters.

"It is tough having to let those guys down and they got their point across to me," he said of his England and Bath team-mates and coaches. "They've all been very honest. Some have said they are disappointed in me, but they understand."

Burgess added that he did not want to spent 18-months trying to win back an England place as he could put that time to better use playing rugby league. Although he defended his performance against Wales, pointing out that England were leading when he was substituted and that he did not give away a single penalty.

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