England's Sam Burgess "embarrassed those around him", claims Former Irish centre Gordon D'Arcy
After all the hype, England's hopes of winning the Rugby World Cup are in serious doubt following a heart-breaking defeat to Wales.
Stuart Lancaster gambled at centre by throwing Sam Burgess and Brad Barritt together for the first time and it backfired hugely for the England coach.
Former Ireland international Gordon D'Arcy has wasted no time tearing into the partnership, describing it as "naive" and claiming it was a mistake to bring Burgess over the more experienced Luther Burrell.
D'Arcy, who whose decade-long partnership with Brian O'Driscoll earned him 82 Irish caps, did not hold back in his column for The Irish Times, saying:
"By picking Owen Farrell, Burgess and Barritt, England didn’t come to Twickenham to play rugby. We all knew this.
"Burgess lacks the sense of timing, in attack and defence, required to be effective at international level. His naivety embarrassed those around him and severely damaged England’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals.
"Stuart Lancaster picked a league convert who doesn’t know how to play inside centre for the biggest match England have played since the 2007 World Cup final. To compound the problem, Brad Barritt was out of position at 13 and exposed accordingly when it mattered most."
While he admits Burgess is talented, the former Leinster player believes that the World Cup has come far too soon for him as he is still learning the intricacies of rugby union, let alone the position of centre:
"I only started playing centre in 2004. It took until the 2007 World Cup before I felt properly attuned to the nuances of the position and comfortable playing Test matches in the 12 jersey... Sam Burgess only arrived at a Bath training session last October.
"When Burgess played in the NRL he was so effective because everything was pre-ordained. There is no ruck so he timed the run off the scrumhalf and could get up a 10-metre head of steam and thunder into a player of his choosing.
"In rugby union there are more variables – rucks, pick-and-goes, the advantage rule – so he only gets three or four metres, and one wrong step forces a break in stride that makes him easier to stop."
D'Arcy was equally scathing in his analysis of England's decision to kick to the corner with three minutes remaining and says that serious questions must be asked of Lancaster's selections not just for the starting XV, but the squad too.
England will need to step things up for the game against Australia, where Jonathan Joseph is set to return from injury earlier than expected.