Luther Burrell says rugby league could tempt more players from rugby union
Luther Burrell believes other rugby union players could be tempted to follow him into league following his cross-code move to Warrington.
The former England centre is rugby league’s highest-profile convert since Andy Powell joined Wigan six years ago, but he says rugby union’s closer alignment with league makes successful switches more achievable.
“We’ve started to use similar traits,” Burrell said, who joined Warrington from Northampton Saints.
“As a centre, a lot of our back plays are based on league structures. If you were to watch a game of union now you would see that, especially from teams like Saracens, with Owen Farrell in there.
“There’s a lot of learning to be had from league and the perception is a good one.
“I had a message from Danny Care asking if they need some half-backs to pull some strings. Hopefully, I can create that bridge for players to come over in the future.
“Your tight-five forwards are probably pushing it a bit and to play such an explosive game like league but the centres and wingers are more suitable.
“There are some good players who could cross the barrier.”
Burrell says Danny Cipriani expressed an interest in league but has since committed his future to union.
“Unfortunately, he’s re-signed for Gloucester but he was one when he heard about me signing, he reached out and said he’d love to try his hand at it,” Burrell added.
Warrington used a salary-cap exemption to lure the Huddersfield-born Burrell to Super League on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
That contract starts on July 1 but Burrell started training with his new club a week ago and admits he needs to both lose weight and improve his fitness before he can make his Super League debut.
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“You have to be fitter, definitely,” he said. “It’s a different sort of fitness; it’s short bursts, very explosive and a lot of wrestling, so you’ve got to be lighter and fitter.
“There’s a lot more stoppages in union and the shot clock [in league] has made the rest and recovery time pretty much non-existent, so you’ve got to be very fit.
“I’ve always followed the game throughout my union career it’s constantly speeding up.”
Burrell, who won 15 caps for England, says he has ambitions to play internationally in league.
“I can’t lie and say I’ve not thought about playing for England rugby league but you’ve got to consider what it takes to get there,” he added.
“I’ve got to try and get myself in this team. I watched the lads deliver some great stuff at the weekend.
“If I can play well in this team, who knows, but my priority is to improve here.”
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Warrington coach Steve Price says he is not yet ready to pencil in a date for Burrell’s debut.
“Luther is a big strong lad who can play centre, wing or back-row,” he said.
“Our target is to get him involved in the centre position. When that will be, I’m not sure.
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