Alex Dombrandt, Ben Spencer, Mike Brown and Ben Te’o were all excluded from England’s latest World Cup warm-up squad. Whilst it was originally believed that the four players were simply not up to the standard required by coach Eddie Jones, it appears that there may be more to the latter two’s omissions than first thought.
The Times has reported that Te’o and Brown were in fact stood down for an altercation that occurred between the pair at a team social event. The event was ironically scheduled to foster better relationships within the team, but that appears to have backfired spectacularly.
Te’o and Brown were always teetering on the edge of the squad with neither player having an impact on England’s Six Nations campaign earlier this year. Brown didn’t take the field at all whilst Te’o managed just two minutes off the bench in the final game of England’s campaign, a draw with Scotland.
Jones has thrown the dropped players a lifeline: “Players excluded from being involved in this camp are naturally disappointed but may get another opportunity so they must be ready.”
It would be hard to imagine either Brown or Te’o being brought back into the squad, however, if the rumours behind their omissions are true. Brown missed out on Jones’ first World Cup preparation squad but was a surprise call-up in Jones’ second squad iteration.
“We are getting the balance right at the moment and we are getting through some good quality work,” Brown said upon his return.
“It’s been hard, but off the field we are getting things right, which maybe we didn’t in 2015.”
Neither Brown nor Te’o are strangers to controversy in the past. Following England’s tie with Scotland, Te’o returned to the team hotel in the early hours of the morning after a drunken night out. That matter was dealt with internally with no stand-down applied. Brown is well-known for his chirpy and confrontational nature on the field.
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