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Te'o aims to add technique to power

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/06/2017 Angelo Risso

Ben Te'o fits all the descriptions of an ideal Warren Gatland midfield bruiser - fast, strong and capable of bashing over the gainline.

But the British and Irish Lions boss insists he's picked the Auckland-born Englishman for their New Zealand tour with more than just his brawn in mind.

The 30-year-old played the full 80 at second-five on Saturday as his Test outfit laboured to a 13-7 win over the provincial Barbarians, struggling in the first half but bouncing back to notch 87 running metres.

Beyond his physical power and 13 carries, Te'o also offered second-half glimpses of guile, making five clean breaks and four offloads.

But his side's inability to finish off their opportunities or attack from deep cost them, as they secured just the single try through Anthony Watson.

Penalty goals to Johnny Sexton and Greig Laidlaw then pushed them home.

"His footwork and some of the subtleties about his game were impressive and I thought he had a really strong performance, carrying (and) creating a lot of chances for us in terms of getting in behind," Gatland said.

Te'o, a former NRL Premiership winner, State of Origin representative with Queensland and Samoa rugby league international, told reporters post-game he still considered ball-carrying his strongest asset.

But he was working hard to nail the more refined aspects of the game.

"A lot of people might say I don't do the other things but those are things I'm always trying to work on," Te'o said.

"Sometimes they can come out and show in certain games, and then (in) some games you've just got to put it away and do the hard graft."

Te'o said he was unsurprised by the semi-professional Baabaas' quality against a jetlagged Lions group, dominating both possession and territory.

But he refused to make excuses for the slim margin of victory, saying the side needed drastic improvement in a short space of time - aided by better pre-match preparation - to genuinely challenge the All Blacks.

"We dug deep, got tested, and that's what we wanted," Te'o said.

"This is a new team, a new bunch of guys who haven't been together long.

"But I think we showed some character, a little bit of grit, and that's good."

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