Cheika gives Te'o big tick

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Ben Te’o’s inclusion in the England squad for June Tests is a smart move, Wallabeis coach Michael Cheika says.

The former Queensland Origin player was named in the 32-man squad for the Roses, set to take on the Wallabies, after signing with English club, Worcester, for the upcoming season.

Te’o has been in outstanding form for Irish club Leinster, named the club’s player of the year this season.

Cheika said Teo’s performances had been impressive in the Pro12 over the last two seasons.

“I think he’s made a great transition, number one,” he said on the podcast.

“I spoke to him a fair bit before he went over, he went to my club in Ireland, Leinster, so they’ve been very pleased with him over there.

Cheika said Teo’s transition, which has gone with little fanfare, had given him time to focus on improving.

“It’s been a very quiet transition, not a lot of noise, so it’s probably given him a chance to get really instilled into the art of playing at 13 which is where he’s been playing.

“You know you’re going to get a tough, hard defender there and from what I've watched he’s  made the transition really, really well.”

Ben Te'o has played State of Origin for Queensland. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile Te’o may see little or no game time during the Test series, Cheika said the opportunity to familiarise himself with the setup would only help Te’o, though the ex-NRL star has proven himself on big stages before.

“I think it’s a pretty smart play,” he said.

“There’s not much risk on the line. He’ll get experience with the team.

“Whether he plays Tests or not, you don’t know, but I think he’ll handle the jump up.

“He’s played on the biggest stage, so I don’t think it’s an issue.”

The Wallabies squad is set to be announced on Thursday but Cheika was coy on any surprise inclusions in that squad.

“There’s a few guys that have come out that haven’t been in the wider squads that I’ve liked,” he said.

“There’s still a round of Super Rugby to go (before Wallabies camp).

“I always liked that idea of having the energy of someone who maybe wasn’t projected to be in it but they’ve also got to earn that and warrant that selection.

“We’ll just see how it plays out. See what happens.”

Listen to the full podcast below.