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Hostile Wales crowd holds no fear for England centre Ben Te'o

Ben Te'o is unafraid of the hostility that awaits when England face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

And Te'o has revealed he is preparing for another daunting trip after disclosing plans to visit North Korea with Jonny May.

Te'o has been discussing the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with May, and the pair have decided to embark on a backpacking visit to the country.

"Me and Jonny have been watching a lot of documentaries on North Korea. That's what he's quite interested in. We chat a lot about that," Te'o said.

"I sent him a few links on some documentaries that I thought he might be interested in.

"We've had quite a few chats and coffees about how we can fix the situation there. There's a lot that needs to be done.

"Jonny wants to do a backpacking trip. He said: 'We need to go before things get really bad'.

"I said 'I don't know if it's worth it, it's quite dangerous' but he said 'I'm pretty keen on it.' Maybe we'll be reporting to you live from North Korea in the summer.

"Jonny is interesting. I like being around him. I like talking to him about what he gets up to and what he's thinking."

May has emerged as one of the England squad's comedy characters, described by Tom Youngs as a "space cadet with X-factor" while Eddie Jones has said he would like to spend a day inside the Gloucester wing's head.

"A different character" is how May views himself, adding "I'm a thoughtful person. I'm deep in thought and people probably wonder 'is he thinking about a lot or not a lot?'"

He is set to feature in the RBS 6 Nations showdown at the Principality Stadium, with Te'o reprising the impact replacement role he performed to such destructive effect in Saturday's 19-16 victory over France.

The Worcester centre arrived on to the pitch in the 69th minute and 93 seconds later he had carried twice and picked a smart running line to score the decisive try, setting a new record for the fastest touch down by a debutant in the Championship.

It was his fourth cap - all of them have been won off the bench - and the 30-year-old accepts his current role, which has been described by Jones as a "finisher".

"You've got to be patient. Eddie's talked to me about that. I didn't get a go on the tour to Australia last summer but I left feeling quite motivated to really train hard and have a good start to the next season," Te'o said.

"Now that I'm getting in and getting a bit of a taste of it, it makes me want to keep improving and keep pushing.

"I understand that strong teams are more like strong squads and that you need depth and you need people to all pull in the right direction."

Auckland-born Te'o, who qualifies for England through his mother, has a nomadic CV that includes international rugby league for Samoa, seven appearances for Queensland in the State of Origin and spells at Leinster and Worcester in union.

It is the variety of his experiences that ensures playing at a raucous Principality Stadium will be taken in his stride.

"I can't say it would really affect me much. I've come up against plenty of teams, plenty of rival games, and been to plenty of hostile environments. It's rugby isn't it? I'm going to go out on the field and play," he said.

"State of Origin is quite hostile. NRL finals - there are some big games there. If you're going to Sydney to play the Blues in a decider it's full-on, a bit of everything. Just really intense. So a nice loud crowd - I'm not foreign to it.

"I've played in some big European Cup games in France - Toulon was very hostile."

While England ultimately claimed Te'o's allegiance, Ireland were also interested in recruiting him on residency grounds.

The prospect of playing for Joe Schmidt's men seemed to grow when a photo of him in an Irish jersey was circulated on social media, resulting in condemnation as a rugby mercenary.

"I think I was in a sports store and we were trying on a load of different jerseys. I just put that up," said Te'o, who was one year short of qualifying for Ireland on residency grounds.

"At the time I was playing for Leinster. The guys who were on that team who understand my personality would know what I was doing."


From Belfast Telegraph