Te'o could have been a Wallaby

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika won’t be surprised to see Ben Te’o line up in the first Test, though he wishes he wasn’t the enemy.

Te’o has played in Ireland for the past two seasons and recently became eligible for England after signing a contract with Worcester, as well as having English heritage.

Cheika, who used to coach in Leinster, spoke to Te’o before he left for Europe and said he had harboured a desire to bring Teo back to Australia.

As with a number of those contests, though, Cheika said they were outmuscled by the resources of the English Premiership

“We would’ve loved to have Ben back here playing for Australia,” he said.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to say that we tried to get him to come back and play in Super Rugby here but as we’ve seen before the English game has more money than we have.

“They’ve come in, I think they've got a lot more resources to put in their game than we have.”

Ben Te'o is in line for his England debut. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika said no matter where Te’o’s journey took him, he knew that he would be successful in rugby.

“I’ve had a bit to do with Ben before we went over to Leinster, he’s been in my club and he’s a great guy," he said.

“There’s no doubt that he was going to be successful in that movie but sometimes you just can't’ compete with the pound, that’s the way it is.

“I’m sure he’ll do very well for England.”

England coach Eddie Jones said on Thursday that Te’o possessed plenty of the skills to play in the centres for England.

“Having coached a lot of rugby league guys and knowing if you can play State of origin successfully you can be successful in test rugby, he’s got the pedigree to be successful,” he said.

“Secondly, he’s got a skillset that’s very suited to playing 12 in international rugby.

“He can take the ball through the line, he can pass before the line, he’s a very good and strong, robust defender.”

Te’o’s potential inclusion in the first Test would bring a touch of extra spice to the opening match, playing at the ground where he used to run out with the Brisbane Broncos, possibly against former club and state teammates.

The ex-NRL star lived with star Wallabies back Israel Folau at one point, and Folau has previously praised Te’o in his transition.