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Four England players who switched position with mixed results: Wilkinson, Burgess and more

Eddie Jones has made a habit of moving players from one position to another whether it be putting either Courtney Lawes or Maro Itoje in the back-row or playing Owen Farrell in the centre.

Here are four other England players who switched positions during their careers:

1. Jonny Wilkinson
Centre to Fly-Half

Wilkinson started his career at Newcastle School of Rugby as an inside centre, competing for a place with international veterans such as Inga Tuigamala, and Lion Alan Tait. He then took over from Rob Andrew, who was made Falcons head coach (later Director of Rugby), as both their fly-half and goal kicker. The rest is history.

2. Tom Youngs
Centre to Hooker

He made his Tigers debut at centre against London Irish on Boxing Day 2006, broke his leg after five minutes and came off after thirteen. He was then persuaded to become a hooker by Heyneke Meyer and went onto captain Tigers as well as win 28 England caps.

3. Sam Burgess
Flanker to Centre

Who could forget this odd position change? The cross-code star came into rugby union, playing in the back-row for Bath in the Premiership. England then started him in the centre at the Rugby World Cup. Still trying to work that one out..

4. Ben Foden
Fullback – Scrum-half

Sale Sharks coach Philippe Saint-André saw him primarily as a full-back, commenting after a strong performance from Foden against Newcastle Falcons, “If he’s not a full-back I will eat my French beret. Despite these ringing words of endorsement from his coach, Foden’s desire to play scrum half saw him sign for Northampton Saints on the basis of a promise to play him at his preferred position. Long story short, he’s back at fullback.


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