Sam Burgess was once the poster boy of rugby league, but it’s fair to say his rugby union career never took off in the same way.
In fact, the 32-year-old continues to be targeted by those he played the 15-a-side game with in bizarre concentrated attacks.
In reference to his time spent in the 15-a-side code, Burgess recently came out firing against an article written about Jamie Roberts – the Welsh centre whom the rampaging Yorkshireman silenced during the nations’ titanic clash back in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Roberts claimed that “Wales loved England picking Sam Burgess”, which is ironic considering England were leading in that fixture until centre Burgess was hauled off in bizarre circumstances.
England were ahead 25-18 in the 70th minute when former South Sydney Rabbitohs star Burgess was substituted for George Ford, with the English then going down 28-25.
Inexplicably, Burgess has been blamed for the defeat in union circles ever since.
And, in Roberts’ tell-all autobiography Centre Stage there are more revelations of Burgess’ actions after the incident in 2015.
The Welsh centre exposes the impact that game had on his opposite number.
“Three years later, my phone buzzed with an Australian number. Not recognising it, I didn’t answer, letting it go straight to voicemail. There followed a long, rambling sequence of text messages from someone referring to themselves as “the greatest” and imploring me to pick up.
“It took me a while to figure out it was Sam Burgess. He may have been under the influence, going on to describe himself as “the guy who shut me down” before England had apparently “bottled it” and replaced him with George Ford.
“When the English press combed through the wreckage of their failed campaign, they’d been desperate to find a scapegoat, and Burgess – the outsider from rugby league – had proved a convenient one.
“The public opprobrium had clearly left its mark, and all those years later it obviously still hurt.”