Friday 19 January 2018

'World class Robbie will have great partnership with Ringrose' - Ben Te'o thumbs up for deal

Leinster 19 Ospreys 16

Ben Te'o, Leinster, is tackled by Tom Grabham, Ospreys Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Ben Te'o, Leinster, is tackled by Tom Grabham, Ospreys Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Sean Cronin, Leinster, is tackled by Sam Davies, Ospreys Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Dan Leavy, Leinster, scores his side's first try of the game Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
David Kelly

David Kelly

Ben Te'o has the uncanny knack of unsubtly taking the shortest route possible, whether running hard lines at fretful opponents or dishing out solid lines for gleeful dictaphones.

His propensity to puncture defensive holes and his ability to smash the tired etiquette of modern media engagement will be sorely missed.

Worcester Warriors will engage his services next season instead; the Auckland-born midfielder toyed with a return home so he is clearly not pitching up there for the climate.

"It was a big decision for me, at my age now," said the 29-year-old former rugby league star. "League was pulling me pretty hard ... but deep down, I knew I was really enjoying and making some progress in rugby. That was the first thing, deciding between codes.

"When I made my decision I was going to stay in rugby, then I had to decide about hemispheres. Was I going to go back to Australia and play down there in Super Rugby? Or, was I going to stay up here?

"That's when it probably turned into a financial decision. Obviously, there is a lot more money in the northern hemisphere. . . I had some good offers

"It seemed like The Premiership is really going places in that sense. I'm English-qualified. Why not go over there and have a real crack? The money is good over there. I got a great offer. I'm getting older now. I've got to start banking it now."

Robbie Henshaw's recruitment will soften the blow considerably and, after completing his seventh game alongside another prodigy, Garry Ringrose, Te'o is excited about what will follow him.

"I'm very pleased they've picked up Henshaw. I know he's got a good relationship with a lot of the guys," he said. "He's what they need. He's a world-class player. I can see a really good partnership for the future between himself and Garry."

Te'o would like to leave Ireland with something other than a glittering new contract burning a hole in his pocket and helping Leinster to win a record fifth Guinness Pro12 title would fit the bill.

Leinster have edged themselves into the sort of position whereby they should now be regarded as favourites to earn a home semi-final back here in May.

"Everyone is going so hard at all the games now," said Leinster head coach Leo Cullen after this hard-fought win over Ospreys. "There's no inclination to send a slightly weaker team that there would have been in the past so every game matters. Everyone's scrapping for every single point so it's very competitive."

Leinster arguably should not have had to scrap as hard for the four points they secured here as they borrowed some of the international side's inability to clinically convert pressure into tries.

Although leading 16-3 at the break thanks to Ian Madigan's boot, added to his snappy break beyond flat-footed opposite number Sam Davies, which created the burst for Dan Leavy's try, the home side could have had the game beyond retrieval.

As it was, Ospreys were somehow allowed to re-engage and Dan Baker's marauding, try-scoring presence, added to a glut of errors, left the debate open until the end.

Similar sloppiness in the run-in could spoil what seems to be a perfectly timed title challenge.

Leinster - Z Kirchner; F McFadden, G Ringrose (N Reid 78), B Te'o, I Nacewa (capt); I Madigan, E Reddan (L McGrath 57); C Healy (P Dooley 46), S Cronin (R Strauss 44), M Ross (T Furlong 44), R Molony, M Kearney (H Triggs 50), R Ruddock (D Ryan 72), J Murphy, D Leavy.
Ospreys - PD Evans (T Habberfield 55); J Hassler, J Matavesi (J Spratt ht), O Watkin, B John; S Davies, R Webb (capt); N Smith (G Thomas 51), S Parry (S Otten 55), D Arhip (M Fia 51), T Ardron, R Thornton (A Beard ht; T Grabham 79)), J King, D Baker, O Cracknell (J Bearman 72).
ref - Ian Davies (WRU).

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