Rugby: Why Eddie Jones's Ben Te'o gamble is a safe bet

Ben Te'o in action for Leinster against Ulster. Photo / Getty Images
Ben Te'o in action for Leinster against Ulster. Photo / Getty Images

Wily supremo Eddie Jones plans to show how badly England bungled the Sam Burgess experiment by getting the most from a new code-hopper in Ben Te'o.

Just eight months after England were laughed out of their own World Cup, Jones has boldly backed Te'o's hardcore make-up to dent the Wallabies in next month's three-Test series.

The Kiwi-born former Brisbane Broncos forward has been picked as a straight-running centre punt and one of just four uncapped players in Jones' 32-man touring squad.

Jones was scathing of the mess that England made of the Burgess code switch last year when branding him "lost" and a "non-event" in a "muddled" England plan at the World Cup.

One thing Jones guarantees is a clear game plan and he likes the qualities in Te'o, a late-to-rugby convert who recently won Irish club Leinster's player of the season honour.

"Australia are the second-ranked team in the world and their coach is the World Rugby coach of the year so their supporters will expect a positive result from them," Jones said in London.

"We will upset the apple cart."

The battle lines for a physical first Test against the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium on June 11 have been drawn.

"We have to be in their faces from the first minute of the first Test," Jones said.

"But we are in no doubt of the challenge we face.

"England have only ever won three Tests in Australia and never won in Brisbane so it is a great opportunity for us to create new history."

Little-known props Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge are uncapped tourists made of the right stuff, according to Jones.

"Both of them had difficult backgrounds and now they have a fantastic opportunity to make their mark in the world through rugby," Jones said.

"Players like that are desperate. There is a company I did a little bit with, a blue chip company.

"The CEO said that when he recruits people, the first thing he does is look for the people from a broken family because they are desperate to succeed and it's the same in sport."

He might also have been referring to Te'o's chequered background which includes the assault allegations that rocked his 2013 State of Origin campaign. He was not charged.

Te'o played beside Burgess in Souths' epic 2014 NRL premiership victory but may well outshine him in rugby by making the long-term commitment that his one-time teammate never could.


Backs: Mike Brown, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Alex Goode, Jonathan Joseph, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ben Te'o, Manu Tuilagi, Anthony Watson, Marland Yarde, Ben Youngs.

Forwards: Dan Cole, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jack Clifford, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Teimana Harrison, Dylan Hartley, James Haskell, Paul Hill, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Matt Mullan, Chris Robshaw, Kyle Sinckler, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola.


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