BATH Rugby are reportedly in talks to sign England rugby league international Sam Burgess.
Former Bradford Bulls forward Burgess, 25, is rumoured to be keen on a cross-code switch, having played for Australian National Rugby League (NRL) side South Sydney Rabbitohs, owned by Holywood actor Russell Crowe, for the last four years.
The Rabbitohs have said no official approach has been made for Burgess, of whom England coach Stuart Lancaster is thought to be an admirer of Burgess.
Lancaster today denied that an approach has been made, amid reports that Burgess has agreed to a move part-funded by the Rugby Football Union at the end of the year with speculation identifying Bath as his likely destination in the Aviva Premiership.
The 25-year-old forward, who would likely play at inside centre were he to cross codes, is contracted to the South Sydney Rabbitohs meaning a transfer fee having to be paid to the NRL club.
"It's all a bit hypothetical at the moment and is just speculation as far as I'm aware. The RFU haven't made any approach to the Rabbitohs," Lancaster said.
"It's really an issue for Sam if he wanted to come to rugby union.
"He's under contract and would need to persuade his club to release him and another club to sign him.
"We don't centrally contract players so it would have to be an arrangement with an English club."
It has been suggested Burgess could participate in England's 2015 World Cup campaign, but Lancaster insists the timescale would make it difficult for any league convert to argue a meaningful case for selection for the tournament.
"It would be a challenge, big time, because of the nature of learning the sport and everything else that goes with it," he said
"There's a bigger picture about developing a team that goes way beyond 2015 as well."
Burgess made rugby league history last year by playing alongside older brother Luke and younger twins Tom and George as the Rabbitohs beat Sydney rivals Wests Tigers in an NRL game.
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