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Te'o admits Lions tour wasn't a priority

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/05/2017 By Andrew Baldock
Ben Te'o. © Andrew Boyers/Reuters Ben Te'o.

Ben Te'o has admitted that a place in the British and Irish Lions squad would not have featured on his rugby radar last summer.

But the Auckland-born England and Worcester centre will head back to New Zealand in a fortnight's time as part of a 41-man Lions group tasked with beating the world champion All Blacks.

After breaking into Eddie Jones' England plans when the Six Nations champions toured Australia in 2016, Te'o went on to make his Test debut against South Africa six months ago and has relished life in the international spotlight.

"Pre-season, the Lions would not have been on the radar at all," Te'o said.

"I was looking to try and start well at a new club.

"Over time, when you get opportunities, you take them. I am trying to progress my career and keep evolving as a player.

"I want more minutes, I want to start, I am always working towards that. Fingers crossed, I might get my opportunity (with the Lions), and if I do, I have to seize it."

Te'o doesn't shy from the fact he was selected mainly because of his ability as a ball-carrier and staunch defensive player.

"I was picked for a reason, and they felt I can bring something different, and that is what I will try to bring."

Te'o is among 14 Lions players currently on the first pre-tour training camp in Wales, with almost two thirds of the squad missing due to domestic and European play-off commitments.

It is likely the majority of head coach Warren Gatland's initial training group will be heavily involved in the June 3 tour opener against a New Zealand Provincial Barbarians side, and 30-year-old Te'o is thirsting for action.

"I would say the majority of the guys here will make up a large part of that first game. We should use that to our advantage, work on our combinations and get a feel for each other."

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