Te'o thankful to Folau for code change

Wed, 16 Nov 2016 17:16

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Ben Te'o said it was his former Brisbane Broncos teammate Israel Folau who gave him the confidence to switch from Rugby League to Rugby Union in a move that has seen him become an England international.

Te'o made his Test debut off the bench in England's 37-21 win over South Africa at Twickenham last weekend and the Worcester centre is in line to win his second cap against Fiji on Saturday.

Born in Auckland, Te'o moved to Australia as a 17-year-old. After growing up playing both codes of rugby, it was League where he first made his name as he went on to represent Queensland in the State of Origin.

Folau, now a fixture in the Wallaby side, had already gone across to Union when the dynamic fullback convinced his Sydney housemate to follow him into the 15-man code.

"I was living with Israel Folau at the time, we were living in Kensington. I was at Souths and he was at Waratahs," Te'o said.

"I was feeling a little bit stale and asking myself some questions and I bounced it off him a little bit.

"I said: 'I'm 27, do you think it's too late?'. He said: 'No, no it's not too late'. I asked if he thought that I would be alright or is it too hard? He said: 'No I think that you can do it'. He's someone that gave me a lot of confidence to give it a go.

"I left the door open when I first came because I didn't know what would happen. If I had left it too late and I just wasn't on everyone else's level I would have gone back.

"The initial part was hard but then I really started to enjoy the game and fall back in love with it. The World Cup was a really big thing for me. I watched every game and really enjoyed it as a spectator.

"I started getting the love back. And then I shut the door - there was no way I was going back."

Te'o's first Union club was Dublin-based Leinster and he might have opted to qualify for Ireland had not Red Rose coach Eddie Jones convinced him he had a future with England, for whom he qualifies through his mother's family.

"The first thing I decided was wanting to play Rugby Union. Obviously my time in rugby league was fun but I was looking for something else," Te'o said.

"I had some questions myself, such as if I had stayed in Union as a kid would I have made it? Would I have been a good player? I needed to answer those questions myself.

"The opportunity to play union took me to Ireland, that's where I played and then a chat with Eddie.

"A chat about if I got myself over to the Premiership I would have an opportunity if I played well to put myself in the system and that's how it came along.

"I obviously knew being eligible and having a passport, it was just the way that it went!"

Agence France-Presse