Six Nations: Luther Burrell not getting carried away despite superb start to England career
Luther Burrell talks to Sky Sports about picking union over league and making the step up with England.
By Rob Lancaster - Tweet me: @SkySportsLanny
Last Updated: 14/02/14 10:55am
Instead, the performances of the Northampton centre have been somewhat overshadowed over talk of those who might be around in the near future to provide further competition for places in Stuart Lancaster's starting midfield.
Yet whether it be the potential switching of codes by Sam Burgess or the imminent return from injury of Manu Tuilagi, Burrell appears set to face the challenge as if he were attempting to make a break with ball in hand - fully committed.
"You want to step onto the field and play your best rugby every time you go out there, especially when you get to represent your country," he told Sky Sports.
"For me, it's just about keeping my head down, doing the work in the week and making sure I'm comfortable that I've got the knowledge of the opposition and of our game plan. Hopefully it can then all fall into place on the day.
"It's been an emotional period for me representing my country, which is something I've been working towards for a very long time.
"By no stretch, though, am I going to sit back this week and just think that the job is done.
"I'll truly be able to reflect on everything, and have a look back, when the tournament is over. For now, I'm taking each day as it comes."
As speculation grows about Burgess' potential move, there are actually few better people than Burrell to offer advice to the England rugby league international. Not only does he occupy the same position that Burgess has been tipped to fill, he also knows all about the 13-man game.
Born in Huddersfield, Burrell played both codes in his youth. Indeed, he was on a dual-registered contract during his younger days at Leeds (where he worked under current national boss Lancaster), leaving him with a choice to make over which path to follow.
Now, as an England international who crossed the try line against both France and Scotland in this year's Six Nations, few can argue he didn't make the correct choice.
"I grew up at my school playing rugby league," he said.
"I had a brief spell with the Rhinos and opted to stick with rugby union. I was actually on a dual contract with Leeds but decided I wanted to play union. Since making that decision I've never really looked back.
"I grew up playing union on a Saturday and league on a Sunday. I wouldn't dream of playing two games in a weekend now! But, as a young lad I was able to do that, which was good for me."
Asked if playing league had helped his development, he added: "Yeah, definitely.
"Obviously they are different skill aspects. League tend to spend more time on their skill sets, whereas in union it's a broader game and there are different aspects you need to work on.
"Being able to do both at such a young age has helped me out in the long run."
Burrell also believes his switch to play his club rugby at Northampton has been crucial.
After seeming to stagnate at Sale, a move to Franklin's Gardens in 2012 has allowed the Yorkshireman flourish. He is full of praise for director of rugby Jim Mallinder and all the coaching staff at Saints, all of whom have crucially shown faith in his abilities.
"The coaching staff there have made me into the player I am at the moment," Burrell said about Northampton, who often choose to use him at inside centre.
"I'm playing with a bit more confidence. I didn't have that at the clubs prior (to Northampton) because I wasn't given the exposure.
"Jim (Mallinder) and the guys at Northampton have worked with me, both on the field and off it, and have taken me in these big games and given me opportunities. I've managed to play well and gain confidence.
"As a young player that's all you want to do. You want to get out there with that confidence behind you.
"When you've got world-class players around you like I have at Northampton, you can just feed off them. It's been brilliant for me and it's a fantastic club to be at. I'm very thankful for what they've done for me."
With his club side Burrell has had the chance to play in the Heineken Cup, Europe's premier club competition. However, he admits that playing for England has been another step up from that.
"It's the intensity and the speed of everything. It's very, very quick," he admits.
"Your reaction time has got to be spot-on, if you get caught napping you get sussed out. You're coming up against the best players in the respective countries and they're very smart.
"You've got to stay in the game for the full 80 minutes - you can't switch off for one second."
He has shown no sign of switching off so far. Next up will be Ireland, and a chance to pit himself against Brian O'Driscoll on his first international start at Twickenham. It is a daunting challenge, but one you would bet Burrell can rise to, because, so far, he's been leagues apart wearing 13 for England.
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