The fans knew a move was likely to be on the cards for Ben Te’o and it has now eventuated, with the South Sydney back-rower signing with Irish rugby union side, Leinster.
Union is not a foreign game to the representative back-rower and with the option to play him at centre, he provides some steady options for Leinster coach, Matt O’Connor.
Te’o enjoyed previous stints with the Wests Tigers and the Brisbane Broncos throughout his NRL career and with game 150 coming up, he will have achieved a personal milestone.
The Samoan representative will join Leinster once the Bunnies season is over and for the man himself, although it was a hard decision, it was simply too good of an opportunity to pass up.
“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. 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,” said Te’o.
“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.”
His time at Souths has been enjoyable for Te’o and a lot of that is down to coach Michael Maguire and his team-mates, resulting in experiences that he will never forget.
“There is a lot of footy still to be played in this season and I owe it to Michael Maguire, his staff, and the rest of the players and of course the Souths Members and fans to focus all of my attention on those games starting this Thursday against the Broncos,” Te’o said.
“There will be a time for farewells and thank yous when all is said and done.”
The interest in Te’o was there for quite some time for the Irish rugby club and after making a good impression on them, they are pleased to have gotten their man.
“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,” said Leinster boss, Matt O’Connor.
“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.
“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.”
Although it has been some time since Te’o played rugby union, O’Connor does not believe that it will be a factor and expects the transition to be smooth.
“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,” said O’Connor.
“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.”