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England-bound Te'o: 'I'm pretty proud of where I am and where I'm going'

Even the powerful Kiwi centre has been surprised by how quickly he has converted to a new code.

THE END IS in sight for Ben Te’o’s tenure with Leinster, but the powerful Kiwi centre is eyeing nothing short of an upward curve for his career post-Ireland.

All going well, Saturday’s trip to Ulster will be one of four more games in blue for Te’o, four more opportunities to make an impact for the province before packing his bags for England and Worcester ahead of next season.

Ben Te'o with Jamie Ritchie and Anton Bresler Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

There, Te’o will instantly become a part of a pool of potential internationals thanks to his English-born mother. He has already been in contact with Eddie Jones by phone; it’s easy to see why England’s Grand Slam-winning coach is a fan.

There was never any doubt over Teo’s physical prowess, but even so, it’s an incredible rate of progress for a player who converted from rugby league to union two short years ago.

It hasn’t quite been the plain-sailing that it has seemed from the outside looking in, but looking back, even Te’o has been surprised by how quickly he became comfortable with the rigours of elite level rugby in this part of the world.

I’m a little surprised now looking at it. There were times… you have your ups and downs. You can think, ‘yeah, I’m going alright’. Other times you think, maybe: ‘am I out of my depth and been away from the game for too long?’”

More often than not, the former assessment was the correct one. Te’o puts that down to the helping hands he received from Leinster’s coaches and team-mates. Even the man he has helped to settle in on his own path to the top this season, Garry Ringrose.

“He’s a humble kid with a good future,” says the 12 of his 13, “I’ve enjoyed watching him come through and he’s probably watched me come through and we’ve learned a lot from each other.

“We’ll see how he goes in future and maybe I’ll come up against him another day.”

Leinster’s Garry Ringrose Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

“It was an interesting transition, coming from the other side of the world and changing games, it was pretty full-on when I first got here. I think I’ve learned a lot about myself as a professional sportsman, what I can deal with…

“I’m pretty proud of where I’m at and where I’m going. This has been a really good club for me to come to and learn the game. The guys and coaches have been really patient. I’ve learned so much from some of my team-mates. I think they would have loved seeing my progression and will probably follow my career and see where I end up.”

He’ll end up in England. And, soon enough, in an England track-suit and jersey, but these past two years with Leinster will always mark a pivotal point in the great career of Ben Te’o.

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Sean Farrell

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