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No extra excitement for bruising Te'o

NZN 15/06/2017 Angelo Risso

British and Irish Lions midfielder Ben Te'o says a Test match-up against the nation of his birth would be "just a game" and hold no special significance.

The 30-year-old Te'o, born in Auckland, has enjoyed an eclectic professional career since moving to Australia as a 17-year-old to play rugby league.

He played for Wests Tigers, Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL, winning a premiership in 2014, and also represented Queensland seven times in State of Origin - helping them secure the final two of their eight consecutive series wins.

Following his father's lineage, he also played for Samoa once.

Te'o then moved to Ireland for a two-year stint with Pro12 giants Leinster in rugby, before jumping across to Worcester Warriors and the English set-up.

He has made eight appearances for Eddie Jones's England to date, including every match as the Red Rose secured a second consecutive Six Nations title in 2017.

With such a varied history, including previous form with the Junior Kiwis, Te'o is no stranger to shifting allegiances.

But he told reporters on Thursday that a match-up with the All Blacks - a likely proposition given Te'o's positive showings in the red jumper - was unremarkable in his eyes, and comparable to matches against Australia or South Africa.

"Things change, times change, I've gone on a different journey through Australia, through rugby league, to Europe to learn rugby all over again," Te'o said.

"I can't say it'd be any more special than playing the Springboks or Wallabies or anyone else, so if I get that opportunity, I'd be very happy and proud of the achievement - but I can't say it'd mean anything more than a rugby game."

Te'o, with his penchant for crashing beyond the gainline with his 106kg frame, will line up at second-five in Saturday's clash with the Maori All Blacks.

It's a dizzying ascent for a man who returned to the 15-a-side game barely three years ago, as he brushes away all before him.

Nevertheless, Te'o insisted a Lions call-up was far from his mind when making the move from Leinster to Worcester in the 2016 off-season.

"I suppose sometimes I sit back and think about my transition into the game, how some people think it has come along quickly, (and) for me it probably doesn't feel that quick - but I'm still proud of the steps I've taken," Te'o said.

"There's no time to be looking around thinking, oh how good is this, just being happy where I am - it's all about going out there and challenging."

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