• Fergus Burke has set the ambition to play for club AND country next season
  • The Kiwi-born fly half is eligible to play for England, Scotland AND New Zealand
  • Scotland coach, Gregor Townsend, is already thought to be keen on Burke 

Fergus Burke has put both England and Scotland on red alert after declaring his ambition to play international rugby for either country, as he looks ahead to the challenge of filling Owen Farrell’s boots at Saracens.

The 24-year-old will join Saracens this summer and for the start of the 2024/25 season, replacing former England captain Farrell, who has left his boyhood club for French side Racing 92.

New Zealand-born Burke moves from the Crusaders, but qualifies for both England and Scotland at international level as well as the All Blacks.

Burke was of interest to United Rugby Championship winners Glasgow Warriors before signing for Saracens, and Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is a big admirer of his talent.

‘I have big ambitions to play international rugby,’ said Burke.

‘First things first I need to come over here (England) and play well for Saracens and whatever happens in that space, happens. It’s exciting.

‘My mum (Julie) is English. She grew up here, lived here. She's been in New Zealand for maybe 20 years now. And her father's Scottish.’

Scotland have Bath’s Finn Russell as their primary playmaker and captain currently but he is 31, so Townsend is looking to the future which is where Burke comes in. 

Townsend was keen for Burke to join Glasgow but his presence at Saracens may mean he will come on to England head coach Steve Borthwick’s radar in the next campaign.

Borthwick is well blessed with young fly-halves in Marcus Smith and Fin Smith. Burke did play in the same Crusaders team as England flanker Ethan Roots.

He represented New Zealand at Under-20 level alongside Taine Plumtree, the now Wales flanker.

‘Lots of boys have come over here (England) and make it work,’ said Burke. ‘You look at Ethan and Chandler (Cunningham-South) and boys like that. It is exciting.

‘It is a different challenge and I am looking forward to it.’

Burke arrived in England for the first time in his life last week and played for the Barbarians in their win over Fiji at Twickenham last Saturday.

He will be the No 10 for Saracens next season and has the unenviable task of filling Farrell’s boots.

‘At the start of the year I didn't have too many intentions on going elsewhere,’ Burke said.

‘There was a bit of chat around the Glasgow stuff and then Saracens came along at the same kind of time.

‘I looked into it and decided it was the best thing for me. I've been through something similar this year, although I've been injured a bit, with Richie Mo'unga leaving.

‘I'm my own player, but I have ultimate respect for what Owen's done at Saracens. He will probably go down as the greatest ever. It's awesome and I'm looking forward to joining the club.

‘I haven't spoken to Owen. I'd love to. I'm sure I'll link up with him at some point.’

Burke has recovered from a series Achilles injury and wants to hit the ground running in England.

So, what does he know of Saracens?

‘They're very strong. I see them as quite a similar club to the Crusaders in New Zealand. They've had quite a lot of success and have built an awesome culture to have that success,’ Burke said.

‘The opportunity to go to a club like that might not be there in a few years. I didn't have any intentions on leaving New Zealand at 24. I spoke to lots of people. It was a big decision.’

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2024-06-24T19:56:16Z dg43tfdfdgfd