Burgess on tenterhooks over WC spot

Sam Burgess is a step closer to England selection at the Rugby World Cup, after coach Stuart Lancaster praised his performance in last weekend’s win over France.

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But the former South Sydney NRL premiership winner will have to wait a bit longer to find out if his code switch has been a success, with Lancaster saying he will leave it as late as possible to make a final decision on the centres in his squad.

Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph will start Saturday’s second match against France in Paris, with Billy Twelvetrees set to make a second-half appearance from the bench.

Only Joseph is certain to be involved at the World Cup with Brad Barritt, who has a calf problem, also guaranteed a place in the 31-man squad that must be named by August 31.

Burgess is slugging it out for the two remaining spots with Burrell, Twelvetrees and Henry Slade.

But he’s been given a boost, with Lancaster appearing to endorse Burgess’s performance in his Test debut against the Frenchman last weekend at Twickenham.

Burgess proved destructive in defence in England’s 19-14 win and could have played himself into the squad.

“That particular decision around the centre combination will go down to the wire. Sam’s been impressive. What he did on Saturday is only what he’s been doing in training,” Lancaster said.

“I thought Henry did very well. There were one or two areas I thought he could have improved on, which he agreed with.

“I set out the context of this selection but also where I see life after the World Cup as well.

“For people like Slade it’s also about the next two weeks, the two months and the next two years as well.”