Rugby League

England coach Eddie Jones backs Ben Te'o to shine on international stage

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Football News

Eddie Jones has condemned the previous England regime's handling of Sam Burgess and is convinced the latest rugby league recruit Ben Te'o will succeed where he failed.

Burgess departed union having completed just one season of his three-year contract at Bath due to his disillusionment at the hosts' World Cup performance, the criticism of his selection and the ongoing debate over his most suitable position.

Now Te'o has been fast-tracked into England's squad for their three-Test series against Australia and is in contention to start the opener in Brisbane on Saturday at inside centre.

The 29-year-old has been taken under the wing of skills coach Glen Ella, a former Wallabies full-back, but Jones believes that he has already proved himself during two seasons at Leinster.

"Burgess was a non-event in England's confused strategy at the World Cup, but he would have been an excellent Test player if he'd had the will to stick at it," Jones told the Brisbane Courier-Mail.

"Rugby league is not a skilful game, it's a game where you've got to hurt people.

"Tough guys like Te'o bring something extra to a squad, a bit of an intangible, plus he's done the hard yards in 50-odd games for Leinster."

Jones has played a central role in the development of seven former league players who have State of Origin experience with Te'o the latest in that lineage.

The Australian believes exposure to the annual three-match series between Queensland and New South Wales offers a telling indicator in the likelihood of a successful change of code.

"There is a massively high correlation between those who have been successful Origin players and then made a really good fist of rugby," Jones said

"If they haven't done that there's a huge correlation with them being average rugby players. That's why I have high hopes for Ben Te'o. He's cut it at the highest level of rugby league.

"Playing Origin means you can cope with the physicality of the most physical game in the world and you have the ability to handle the pressure of Test rugby situations.

"I saw one clip where Ben took the ball to the line and threw a short pass after carrying through the line on his previous play.

"He can mix it up with a good short-passing game and can off-load in contact like a more athletic version of (former Australia centre) Rod Kafer. He can hit."

One of the midfield combinations England could field in the series opener at Suncorp Stadium is Te'o and Jonathan Joseph.

Joseph is a certain starter at outside centre with Te'o competing with Luther Burrell and Owen Farrell to partner him, depending on whether Jones intends dropping George Ford at fly-half.

Joseph hints that Te'o may have to wait another week for his opportunity.

"Ben has settled in very well. He's good to have around. He's a great player who will give us some great go forward in the near future," Joseph said.

"His offloading game is very good and defensively he's very tough. We'd love to see what he can offer on the internationals stage.

"He's here on merit after performing very well for Leinster. I've played against him a few times and he was very good in those games.

"If he gets his shot I'm sure he'll take it with both hands. He told us already how passionate he is and what it means to be in the squad."

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