LEINSTER COACH MATT O’CONNOR told reporters, following his side’s Pro12 final triumph, they would be the first to know if the province was moving for a new outside centre.
Following the departure of the retired Brian O’Driscoll, the former Leicester Tigers coach seems to have exhausted internal inquiries [Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne] while top southern hemisphere stars are unlikely to move to Europe until after World Cup 2015. It would not be too much of a stretch, then, to believe reports emanating from Australia that O’Connor is shopping for centres in the NRL [rugby league].
The Telegraph in Australia has run a piece that suggests South Sydney Rabbitohs centre Ben Te’o is being lined up as O’Driscoll’s replacement. It reports: “Te’o confirmed last week that he would be leaving NRL club South Sydney [owned by actor Russell Crowe] at the end of the season, but added he had not made a decision on where he would play next.”
Te’o's mother is English and there have been previous reports of a switch to Top 14 rugby for the 27-year-old but O’Connor could use his Australian connections to coax him to Dublin. O’Connor has a league background, having played for Hunter Mariners and Paris Saint-Germain in the mid 1990s.
Here is a big hit on occasional All Black Sonny Bill Williams back in March.
Te’o had this welcome for Ashley Harrison back in 2009 when he was a Brisbane Bronco:
Occasional tries, fierce in defence, big-hit merchant. Right up Matt O’Connor’s street.
What do you make of the latest speculation on the vacant Leinster 13 jersey?