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RUGBY: Burgess is our player, says Bath coach Ford
BATH head coach Mike Ford says the club will be fully in charge of Sam Burgess' integration into the 15-a-side game when the rugby league star joins the club later this year.
Ford revealed that Bath owner Bruce Craig has fully financed the 25 year old's £500,000 switch of codes from from South Sydney Rabbitohs, allowing the Rec club to call the shots in terms of his development and playing position.
Burgess will join at the conclusion of the NRL campaign in October with Ford's coaching team already working on ways to bring the best our of their star capture.
The Rugby Football Union was rumoured to have offered financial assistance to smooth the deal, but Ford said: "He's our player, Bruce has financed the deal, he's our player and we'll decide, when the time's right, where he plays, and we'll develop him the way we want.
"It's fantastic for us. I feel this is the best place for Sam to make the transition.
"We'll figure out his best position pretty quickly, but we're quite relaxed about that for now.
"We've got some fantastic players who can play 12 here at the moment, Kyle (Eastmond), Ollie Devoto, Gavin (Henson), there are three quality players there already.
“We want him to be Sam Burgess first and foremost. What number he’ll have on his back, we won’t be too precious about that.'
"The way you want to play the game will dictate where you put Sam.
"Obviously he's world-class, and the saga and the way we got him was pretty satisfying as well, it wasn't easy by any stretch.
"We think it's a huge signing, a major coup.''
Ford reckons Burgess' character marks him out as a special signing, adding: "The kid went to Australia when he was 19, nobody does that, nobody.
"I went over a couple of times, the last time I was 28. You go over a very good rugby league player from here and you're pretty average when you get there. There are so many good players.
"He went over as a 19-year-old and in four years has become arguably the best player in that competition: he's a megastar in the NRL.
"He wants to come to a club where he can make a huge difference.
"When I spoke to him I convinced him this was the right environment for his transfer to be as quick as possible."
Ford also has no worries about his signing's ability to fit into the 15-a-side game.
The Bath coach said: "Once he’s finished his rugby league stint, he’ll come over and learn everything to do with rugby union. The rucks, the technicalities with the tackle, and then we’ll put him out in training and decide where to go from there.
“He’ll have to come through our A team and earn his place in the first team, but I’ve no doubt that it will be very, very quick before he’s in our first team.
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