Lancaster praises Saints as Burrell prepares for England debut

England head coach Stuart Lancaster
England head coach Stuart Lancaster

England coach Stuart Lancaster has praised Saints for their part in turning Luther Burrell into an international rugby player.

Saints centre Burrell will make his England debut in Saturday’s Six Nations opener against France in Paris.

The recognition comes 18 months after Burrell switched from Sale Sharks to Northampton, having started his career at Leeds.

Burrell had to work hard and wait for his chance with Saints, but he has become an integral part of Jim Mallinder’s starting XV, and as of the weekend will also be an England player.

“Luther has impressed over the last 24 months, actually,” said Lancaster, who has worked with Burrell since he was a youngster in the Headlingley ranks.

“I’ve known him since he was 15 and it was a nice moment to tell him face-to-face that he was going to get his first cap.

“With his move to Northampton he’s got consistent rugby and he’s grown in confidence.

“He’s worked hard on his conditioning and he’s now a good, strong athlete with skills as well.

“Everyone at Saints deserves credit.”

And Lancaster went on to say what he hopes Burrell will bring to the England scene.

“You’ve got to have people that get over the gainline and stop them getting over the gainline, but there’s more to Luther’s game than that – he’s got kicking and distribution too,” said the England boss.

“Alongside Billy Twelvetrees, he forms a robust centre partnership.”