Sam Burgess
Burgess got his first taste of international rugby union for the England Saxons in January.Getty Images

Bath centre Sam Burgess has received public backing from Hollywood actor Russell Crowe in his quest to earn an international call-up.

Former rugby league star Burgess is a relatively new face on the union scene, having made the decision to switch codes in November 2014 after a successful stint in Australia with NRL champions South Sydney Rabbitohs.

A heroic performance in last year's Grand Final against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, in which Burgess was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match despite sustaining a broken cheekbone during the opening seconds, further endeared the 26-year-old to noted sports enthusiast Crowe and the Rabbitohs' famous co-owner has backed him to make his mark for England.

"If I was anything to do with the English rugby union I would just select him in the squad," the Oscar-winning Gladiator star said.

"He is a very fast learner. You want the top 30 athletes in that sport to be representing your country. He has to be in the top 30 athletes in rugby union right now.

"Sam is a son of South Sydney. He is a South Sydney warrior. There is no way to remove our club from his heart, or him from our hearts. Never bet against Sam Burgess in the face of a challenge."

While the media spotlight on Burgess has been particularly intense since his debut for Bath, expectations that the player could be fast-tracked into Stuart Lancaster's senior squad for the Six Nations despite a rather indifferent start to his union career eventually proved to be misguided.

Instead, the former Bradford Bulls forward was given an opportunity to impress as part of an impressively strong Saxons lineup for January's clash against the equally formidable Irish Wolfhounds.

Burgess largely struggled to make an impact during the 18-9 win in Cork and although there is a very real possibility that he will be included in England's large training squad ahead of the World Cup, it remains to be seen if he can progress quickly enough to convince Lancaster that he is worthy of a place in the final 31-man tournament party due to be confirmed on 31 August.

The centre position is arguably the area with the most competition for places in the current England setup, with Burgess' club teammate Jonathan Joseph having played a prominent role in recent victories over Wales and Italy after his route to the starting XV was cleared following injuries to Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Kyle Eastmond and Owen Farrell.

Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees have established themselves as regulars under Lancaster and while Exeter's Henry Slade has shown stellar form at 13 during the current Aviva Premiership season, Burgess' sheer size and formidable physical attributes are likely to keep him in contention.