• Sam Burgess made Test debut against France at Twickenham last Saturday
  • Burgess and Henry Slade impressed in the 19-14 victory over Les Bleus
  • Brian O’Driscoll retired from international rugby after the 2014 Six Nations 

Rory Keane for MailOnline

Sam Burgess has the defensive attributes to make a big impact for England at the World Cup but his attacking game still lacks guile, according to legendary Ireland centre Brian O’Driscoll.

Former South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Burgess made his Test debut for Stuart Lancaster’s side against France last Saturday.

Burgess, who started alongside fellow debutant Henry Slade in midfield, caught the eye in the first half with a pair of big hits on France hooker Dimitri Szarzewski and centre Alexandre Dumoulin while the Bath star also linked well with Owen Farrell in the lead-up to Anthony Watson’s second try.

 Sam Burgess caught the eye for England as he made his debut against France at Twickenham last Saturday

 Sam Burgess caught the eye for England as he made his debut against France at Twickenham last Saturday

Burgess starred with a pair of big hits on France hooker Dimitri Szarzewski and centre Alexandre Dumoulin

Burgess starred with a pair of big hits on France hooker Dimitri Szarzewski and centre Alexandre Dumoulin

But four-time Lions tourist O’Driscoll, who represented his country on 141 occasions during a glittering career, still has grave reservations about Burgess’ attacking prowess in the high-pressure Test environment.

‘Burgess has proper defensive X Factor, of that there’s no doubt,’ O’Driscoll stated on his website, www.brianodriscoll.com.

‘His tackle technique and strength in the hit were never in question and for me, he has just the right amount of thug in him to make having a go just a fleeting thought.

‘When his team has the ball though, I just don’t think he’s quite up to speed at international level just yet. I said it last season watching him play for Bath that the difference between attack play in league and union is that in union the hard work starts when the player is tackled and the ruck forms.

‘In league, the tackle completes the play with no rucking needed. Two very different mindsets.’

Burgess has been tipped to make Lancaster’s 31-man for next month’s showpiece at the expense of exciting young Exeter Chiefs playmaker Slade.

 Bath star Burgess has been tipped to make Lancaster's 31-man for next month's showpiece

 Bath star Burgess has been tipped to make Lancaster’s 31-man for next month’s showpiece

And O’Driscoll, who scored 47 tries throughout a 15-year career, was impressed with Slade’s showing against Les Bleus at Twickenham and predicts a bright future for the 22-year-old.

‘As much as all eyes were on the league convert, it was actually his centre partner that stole the show for me,’ the former Leinster three-quarter added.

‘I’ve only seen small quantities of Henry Slade but what I’ve seen, I’ve really liked. The fact he can play 10, 12 & 13 will both help and hinder him in the future.

O'Driscoll was also impressed with Henry Slade's showing against Les Bleus at Twickenham last weekend

O’Driscoll was also impressed with Henry Slade’s showing against Les Bleus at Twickenham last weekend

‘Versatility is a great tool to own as a bench player, but it can sometimes work against you for a starting spot. I’m not sure he’s going to be considered for this year’s World Cup due to his lack of international experience.

‘I also think that because of the way Stuart Lancaster wants to play the game, his size could count against him, but he has plenty of good years to come.

‘I can see him playing 12 in a Mike Catt type role going forward, if England have aspirations to play a more expansive brand in time.’

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

Who is this week’s top commenter?
Find out now