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Former NRL star Ben Te’o is reportedly being lined up for a shock call-up to the England rugby union squad.
Not put off by the failed Sam Burgess experiment, who was labelled a scapegoat for England’s disastrous 2015 World Cup campaign and returned to league after just one season, the Daily Mail has reported that Te’o has been in regular contact with England coach Eddie Jones.
Wanted man: Eddie Jones has former Souths and Queensland forward Ben Te’o on his radar, according to a report in England. Photo: Getty Images
Born in Auckland, Te’o has been playing for Irish province Leinster since switching codes from the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2014. However, he is joining English Premiership club Worcester at the end of this season, which theDaily Mail said was a means of “furthering his ambition to wear the Red Rose at Test level”.
Te’o represented the New Zealand under-16s and Junior Kiwis before taking his game to Australia, where he played for the Wests Tigers, Brisbane Broncos and Rabbitohs.
A back-rower who was also comfortable at centre, Te’o switched his allegiance to Australia and went on to play seven games for Queensland in State of Origin.
He is eligible for the Red Rose through his mother who was born and raised in England, meaning he does not have to qualify on residency.
The Daily Mail reported that “trusted contacts in league” told the England coaches that Te’o has the potential to be an explosive midfielder, in the mould of Manu Tuilagi.
The newspaper claimed the plan is to integrate the 29-year-old in the England set-up “at the earliest opportunity” and that he is seen as a viable candidate for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Jones has made an immediate impact since replacing Stuart Lancaster after the World Cup, leading England to the Six Nations grand slam last week.
Their next assignment is a three-test tour of Australia in June, with Te’o reportedly under consideration for inclusion in the senior national squad.
And Burgess, a friend of Teo’s from their time at South Sydney, talked up his former teammates’ chances of flourishing at test level.
“He is an amazing athlete, very aggressive and focused on his role,” Burgess told the Daily Mail. “He is hard-working and selfless.”
Prior to signing with Worcester in December, Te’o spoke of his desire to play international rugby.
“I’m not sure for who, but I’d love to play it. I want to test myself and I love to play in the biggest games, so that’s something that will factor into my decision,” he said.