Rugby League World Cup: Steve McNamara defends Sam Burgess' disciplinary record
Steve McNamara defends the disciplinary record of Sam Burgess after he is banned for England's clash with Ireland.
Last Updated: 31/10/13 12:13pm
The 24-year-old forward was placed on report for a high tackle on Sam Thaiday during England's 28-20 defeat by Australia in the tournament opener on Saturday.
An international match-review panel subsequently deemed the challenge to be reckless and imposed a one-game ban on the player, which England will not appeal.
However, there have been claims in the Australian media that Burgess, who plays for South Sydney, would have been banned for up to eight games had the offence taken place in the NRL as a result of his poor past disciplinary record.
Responding to the suggestion by one Australian journalist that the former Bradford forward is a "thug", McNamara responded: "That is completely wrong. Anyone who understands Sam knows he's not that type of player."
The England coach described Burgess' tackle on Thaiday as "clumsy" and compared his ban to that handed out to Australia's Tony Williams, who missed one game for a high tackle during the 2011 Four Nations.
Pay the price
"He nearly decapitated Ben Westwood and got a one-match ban," McNamara said.
"We judged the incident. Sam has got to pay the price for his clumsy tackle and we've got to take that one on the chin.
"If you watch the tackle closely, Sam didn't go to maim anybody. He got his timing wrong.
"Thankfully Sam Thaiday was okay. There was nothing too major done there."
Wigan skipper Sean O'Loughlin, who was not risked against Australia having missed much of last Super League season with an Achilles injury, is expected take Burgess' place in the side for Saturday.
Decisions to make
McNamara also refused to clarify the situation over James Graham, who sat out the opening game in Cardiff due to what was thought to be an internal disciplinary measure.
"Everyone was available last week barring Sean O'Loughlin, who we decided not to risk, and everyone is available this week," said McNamara, who cut short a press conference last week because of persistent questions about Graham.
"We've got 24 really good players in our squad and some very good players who didn't play last week.
"It's very early in the week and we're still partly reviewing the game.
"The players will all train today and tomorrow. We've got some decisions to make.
"If we need to make some changes, we will do, but I won't be playing anybody just for the sake of it. It's about winning the tournament. We've got to find the best route for that."