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Ben Te'o reveals pep talk from Australia star convinced him to cross codes

Published 15/11/2016

Ben Te'o is set to win his second England cap on Saturday
Ben Te'o is set to win his second England cap on Saturday

Ben Te'o has revealed it was a conversation with Australia star Israel Folau that gave him the belief to cross codes and pursue an international career with England.

Te'o made his Test debut off the bench in Saturday's 37-21 victory over South Africa and is poised to win a second cap when Fiji visit Twickenham this weekend in the second of four autumn internationals.

Born in Auckland but moving to Australia when he was 17, he grew up playing both codes of rugby but it was league that claimed his allegiance and he went on to make eight State of Origin appearances for Queensland.

Folau had already made the transition when the two shared a house together for five months in Sydney and it was the brilliant Wallabies full-back who ultimately convinced his former Brisbane Broncos team-mate to switch codes.

"I was living with Israel Folau at the time, we were living in Kensington. I was at Souths and he was at Waratahs," Te'o said.

"I was feeling a little bit stale and asking myself some questions and I bounced it off him a little bit.

"I said 'I'm 27, do you think it's too late?'. He said 'No, no it's not too late'. I asked if he thought that I would be alright or is it too hard? He said 'No I think that you can do it'. He's someone that gave me a lot of confidence to give it a go.

"I left the door open when I first came because I didn't know what would happen. If I had left it too late and I just wasn't on everyone else's level I would have gone back.

"The initial part was hard but then I really started to enjoy the game and fall back in love with it. The World Cup was a really big thing for me. I watched every game and really enjoyed it as a spectator.

"I started getting the love back. And then I shut the door - there was no way I was going back."

Te'o's first union club was Leinster, and Ireland were hoping to eventually secure his services on residency grounds before Eddie Jones persuaded him to opt for England, an act made possible through his mother's heritage.

"The first thing I decided was wanting to play rugby union. Obviously my time in rugby league was fun but I was looking for something else," Te'o said.

"I had some questions myself, such as if I had stayed in union as a kid would I have made it? Would I have been a good player? I needed to answer those questions myself.

"The opportunity to play union took me to Ireland, that's where I played and then a chat with Eddie.

"A chat about if I got myself over to the Premiership I would have an opportunity if I played well to put myself in the system and that's how it came along. I obviously knew being eligible and having a passport, it was just the way that it went!"

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