Leinster add to midfield options with signing of Ben Te’o
Coach Matt O’Connor completed the deal while home during the summer
South Sydney Rabbitohs Ben Te’o will join Leinster at the end of the NRL season in Australia. Photograph: Renee McKay/Getty Images
The New Zealand-born player has also played for West Tigers and the Brisbane Broncos in the past and was selected in this year’s State of Origin three game series with Queensland. He will make his 150th NRL appearance against the Brisbane Broncos on Thursday.
The 6ft 2in, 16 and a half stone Te’o plays secondrow at the Rabbitohs, who are currently second in the NRL ladder. Their final game of the season takes place on September 4th.
Te’o made his international debut in rugby league for Samoa at the 2008 World Cup, when he scored two tries in the game against France.
“This is a great step for me personally and is just the type of challenge that I was looking for at this stage in my career,” said Te’o. “Leinster is one of the leading lights of northern hemisphere rugby and the opportunity to return to union was also an opportunity too good to pass.
“It was a difficult decision to leave the Souths and league in general but I have taken my time over this decision and I believe that what Matt O’Connor and the coaching team have cultivated in Leinster is something special and I look forward to getting stuck in.”
O’Connor admitted that Te’o has been on his radar for some time and that the deal was sealed over a number of meetings while he was home during the summer.
“Ben is someone that we have taken an active interest in for some time now in particular as he made his intentions to change codes some time ago. I was home during the summer and met with him a number of times. He is keen and eager to make a lasting impression at Leinster and to develop into a world class rugby player,” said O’Connor.
“He has been a great professional in all of the clubs that he has played with and he has all the physical attributes to compete and deliver for Leinster. His presence will give us a different dynamic in the midfield. Once he arrives, we will have a player at our disposal for the whole season to augment what is already an exciting array of options for the year ahead.”
The lack of recent rugby union experience will not be too big an obstacle either according to O’Connor.
“It is something that I dealt with myself as a player but 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.
“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.”