Saturday 21 October 2017

Burrell vows to 'take no prisoners' in laying down Six Nations marker

England's Luther Burell
England's Luther Burell

Gavin Mairs

England centre Luther Burrell is determined to lay down an early marker against French opposition tonight when Northampton face Castres as the Premiership side seek to keep their faint Heineken Cup hopes alive by landing a bonus-point victory at Franklin's Gardens.

The 26-year-old is expected to form a new-look midfield partnership alongside Gloucester's Billy Twelvetrees in England's Six Nations opener against France due to the injury-enforced absence of Manu Tuilagi.

Burrell will be determined to show his worth to Stuart Lancaster tonight when Northampton will need a bonus-point victory and hope the Ospreys prevent Leinster from picking up any points in Dublin to win the pool.

If not, the Saints' only other chance is if Connacht defeat Saracens at the Allianz Park tomorrow to qualify as one of the two best-placed runners-up.

"This is a good chance in the shop window," said Burrell (right). "I am not just going to out there and play for myself, but it is Heineken Cup rugby and as close to a Test match that you are going to get.

"Hopefully the team can do well and within that I can do well too. It is a big opportunity for me and the rest of the lads. They are going to be a strong team, they have got some strong players so we know we are going to have to be on our game."

Burrell's own game has developed remarkably in the last 12 months since arriving at Northampton following unsuccessful spells at Leeds and Sale Sharks, most significantly in defence.

Once criticised for his technique and work-rate, Burrell now likes to pride himself on his "big hits", however, question marks still remain about his ability to switch to outside centre, having played all his rugby for Northampton at 12.

Burrell, who played the odd game at 13 at both Sale and Leeds, concedes that outside centre is the hardest position on the field to defend but insists he can impose new power defence there for England.

"If I get that opportunity, the last thing I would want is for them to get the upper hand on me," Burrell said. "I want to take it to them and let them know I will take no prisoners.

"The tour to Argentina was a massive learning curve for me. I need to come up to speed quite fast and learn certain systems and learn the way Stuart wants to play the game.

"I am fully clued up in that aspect now and it is just about putting a marker down in this game and getting to Pennyhill Park, training well and putting my hand up for a jersey." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

NORTHAMPTON V CASTRES,

LIVE, SKY SPORTS 1 RED BUTTON, 8.0

Irish Independent

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