Monday 22 January 2018

After saving England Te'o has sights on North Korea

Former Leinster player Ben Te'o Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Former Leinster player Ben Te'o Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

Mick Cleary

The well-travelled Ben Te'o, England's try-scoring saviour against France, has other trips in mind, whether into a regular starting spot for his mother's native land or an adventure to North Korea to sort out the problems of that rogue country with his new team-mate, Gloucester wing Jonny May.

The former Leinster man comes from mixed stock, Samoan father and English mother from West Ham, and his less than straightforward journey to this point mirrors the eclectic nature of his sporting upbringing. It might also account for the fact that rather than be bemused by May's own left-field inclinations, he is attracted to them, often finding himself in conversation with the player whose mother once gave music lessons to Ed Sheeran and who is well known for his idiosyncrasies.

"We've been watching a lot of documentaries on North Korea," said Te'o, whose try against the French was the quickest by a Six Nations debutant.

"We chat a lot about it and I sent him a few links on documentaries that he might be interested in. We've had quite a few coffees about how we can fix the situation there.

"Jonny says we need to go there before things get really bad. I said I didn't know if it was worth it as it was quite dangerous there. Jonny said, 'I'm pretty keen on it.'?"

Tricky

All this was delivered in a wry, deadpan manner, so much so that it was impossible to decide just how serious Te'o was. What it does show, however, is that the 30-year-old has been fully integrated into a squad full of different types, a group who mesh well together, as shown by the manner in which, time and again, they have come through tricky situations to win.

Like many New Zealand-reared kids, Te'o dabbled in both codes before focusing on league. He insists that his decision to come to Europe was born out of curiosity rather than with a mission in mind to work his way into international contention. That there is a photograph of him in an Ireland shirt on social media is a distortion of his professed intentions.

"It (the picture) was a long time ago and I was in a sports store with some Leinster guys and we were just trying on different jerseys," said Te'o.

"When I came here (to Europe) I didn't think along the lines of playing international rugby. I really only came to play rugby, whether that was two years of club rugby and then head home. I came here because I wanted to give it a go."

Meanwhile, All Black full-back Ben Smith will not be making a move to Munster after he extended his contract with New Zealand through to 2020. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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