Sam Burgess: Mike Ford used me as a pawn during 2015 World Cup
Last Updated: 04/06/20 2:20pm
Sam Burgess has described how he called his former coach Mike Ford a "snake" and accused Ford of using him as a "pawn" in a game of politics.
Burgess described how his relationship with former Bath head coach Ford deteriorated to the point where he could no longer work under him.
Burgess made his name in rugby league with Bradford Bulls and NRL side South Sydney Rabbitohs but became a surprise selection in Stuart Lancaster's England squad for the 2015 World Cup, just nine months after switching codes to play for Bath.
The tournament turned into a disaster for England - who became the first host nation to exit in the pool stage - and Burgess believes he had no option but to return to rugby league and the Rabbitohs, just one season into a three-year deal with Bath.
"Mike Ford wanted the England coaching job," Burgess told the House of Rugby podcast.
"I had to tell him I couldn't play for him anymore. I'd lost respect for him."
Burgess was also unhappy that Ford, his club coach at the time, continued to discuss his selection for England's World Cup squad in the run-up to the tournament, despite Burgess asking Ford not to.
"I just felt that people behind the scenes were playing a deeper game," added Burgess.
Burgess also spoke about how his relationship with his then fellow-England international George Ford - son of Mike - was affected after Burgess was named in the side for a crucial game that Ford had been omitted for.
Ford was selected at fly-half for England's opening win against Fiji, but only made the bench for their second match against Wales, a match that saw Burgess brought into midfield and Owen Farrell preferred at 10.
Lancaster's side were beating Wales 25-18 when Burgess was replaced by Ford 10 minutes from time in a crucial game they went on to lose 25-28.
"With George, Mike kind of infiltrated the camp - that is my take on it," said Burgess.
"After me starting against Wales, my relationship with George completely changed. He wouldn't talk to me, he was a bit sulky.
"Knowing what I know now, I see the politics. George came on with 10 minutes to go to keep Mike and George happy. We didn't need him on, we had the team to finish the game."
The 33-13 defeat to Australia that followed ensured England would not progress in the tournament and after briefly returning to Bath, Burgess went back to the NRL and South Sydney after informing Ford he could no longer work under him.
"I went back to Bath and I couldn't sit in the same room as Mike. It was pretty hot to be honest," added Burgess.
"I went straight into his office and said 'Mike I don't trust you, I think you have been playing games behind my back, you have used me as a bit of a pawn in your game of chess. I can't put my boots on and play for you every week'.
"I will never forget his face when I said, 'I can't respect you, I think you are a bit of a snake'. I remember the quiver that I got from him."
Mike and George Ford were contacted by Sky Sports but declined to comment.