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Boss O'Connor backing centre Ben Te'o to make the transition

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Matt O'Connor

Matt O'Connor

Matt O'Connor

LEINSTER coach Matt O'Connor believes new signing can make the switch from rugby league to union, because the once-capped Australian managed the same feat.

"It is something that I dealt with myself as a player," said O'Connor yesterday.

"With his professionalism, his physicality and his skill set, there is no reason why the transition can't be a success. Both codes are littered with examples of players that have made the transition and I look forward to working directly with Ben when he arrives".

Where Leinster have previously traded on the smarts and extra-flanker mentality of Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy, they will look to New Zealand-born Te'o to supply the muscle and menace of his 16- and-a-half stones.

"He is a dynamic and explosive ball carrier and that physicality will enhance our offering both in attack and in our defence. I think the Leinster supporters are going to like what they see.

"I know we in the Leinster coaching team are looking forward to his arrival and the younger players will learn a lot from him. He has the character and the application to be a success at Leinster Rugby".

The acquisition of Te'o certainly represents a step-up in reputation from departed Kiwi Andrew Goodman.

Te'o has played for three Australian Rugby League clubs in the West Tigers, Brisbane Broncos and the storied South Sydney Rabbitohs.

hard

He was rated highly enough to play in all three State of Origin tests this year where his hard, straight lines were effective. Te'o will provide depth at centre for Leinster where he is sure to push for nothing less than first choice status in what is a significant signing for the three-time winners of the Heineken Cup.

It has also been announced that the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup final will be held at Twickenham on May 2, the Challenge Cup equivalent set for The Stoop the night before.

The venue set an attendance record for a European decider in 2012 when 81,744 fans packed in to witness Leinster's victory over Irish rivals Ulster.

Meanwhile, Connacht coach Pat Lam has labelled John Muldoon as "the natural choice" to lead the Western province for the coming season.

"John is the ultimate Connacht man. His performances last year were of a consistently high standard week in week out which is what you want from your captain," said Lam.

"John embodies every single one of our values and is someone who demands huge respect on and off the field.

"For the new and younger players coming in, he leads by example and is the ideal person to guide the team in the new season".


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