Ben Te’o has effectively ended his international career by signing a short-term deal with French club Toulon.
The centre was left out when Eddie Jones’ announced his World Cup squad last week, with an unconfirmed off-field incident during the squad’s training camp in Italy believed to have contributed to Jones’ decision.
With the Rugby Football Union doubling down on its policy of not selecting players based abroad, it means Te’o will be ineligible for a recall should injuries to the existing squad occur.
The recent events are at odds with Te’o’s England career thus far, with the Auckland-born rugby league convert having been a go-to man under Jones’ stewardship despite ongoing injury concerns.
The decision to head to France leaves England short for bulk in the midfield, with Manu Tuilagi the only strong ball-carrying centre left in the squad. The Leicester man has featured in every England game this year, but his questionable fitness means that the lack of options could provide selection problems for Jones and his staff during the tournament.
Te’o, who qualifies for England through his English mother, became available for international selection when he signed for Worcester in 2016. The 32-year-old arrived after a two-year stint at Leinster, having played rugby league in Australia with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Brisbane Broncos and Wests Tigers. He was also selected for the British and Irish Lions in 2017, making two Test appearances.
While he has been a dependable member of the England squad he has only managed 33 games in his three-year stint at Sixways.
His new contract with the Pro 14 club runs up until the end of November, essentially providing the side with cover for players at the upcoming World Cup. His recent England omission means that he is likely to look to continue playing abroad after his contract expires.
England play Ireland at Twickenham this Saturday in their penultimate World Cup warm-up match, with Tuilagi partnering captain Owen Farrell in a reshuffled midfield. They then face Italy, at St James’ Park, before heading out to Japan.
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