Ben Te’o has called on World Rugby for cop on and better look after the smaller rugby nations whose futures are threatened by exclusion from the World League proposals leaked last week.
World Rugby has come in for some trenchant criticism after it was claimed Fiji, Samoa and Tonga would play no part in the drastic reorganisation of the international Test windows for June and November.
The son of a Samoan father, New-Zealand born Te’o has played for Samoa as a rugby league international and is opposed to the proposal for the creation of a World League that would exclude the Pacific Islands.
“The Island nations are rugby nations that give a lot to the game, in the past and in the present,” Te’o said. “Financially they are unions who need a lot of help.
“Coming from rugby league, the biggest thing about union is that it’s a global game. That’s it’s real selling point and where it has the advantage. You have to look after the smaller nations.”
Now 32, Te’o is in the business of looking after himself at a stage in his career when he is unsure what the future holds for him beyond the end of this season as he is out of contract at Worcester.
“I said to myself that I’d come to the Six Nations and enjoy it, enjoy the experience, try to win it and after that I can focus on what happens. There are only two weeks left to go and then I can start planning.”
WORLD LEAGUE: Petition of support for Pacific Rugby teams ??????
— PacificRugbyWelfare (@pacificwelfare) March 5, 2019
The Lions centre has admitted to being torn by the dilemma of turning his back on international rugby and the only club he has played for in order to accept a three-season deal worth in the region of £2.5million.
Dual code international Te’o, who has spent club union spells at Leinster and Worcester, insists finances are key to the decision Tuilagi is expected to confirm at the end of the Guinness Six Nations.
“Manu has to do what’s best for him,” Te’o said. “We’ve all got decisions to make in this game. You’ve got to secure your family. It’s a business, you know. It’s his decision – for him and his family. I don’t really have any advice for him, he has to make up his own mind and I’m sure he will.”
Te’o would have started the 32-20 victory over Ireland on February 2 but for a side strain and he has watched from the sidelines since due to Tuilagi taking his chance at inside centre.
“I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating because you have to come to terms with these things. I was happy to see the boys on fire in Dublin and really rip into France,” Te’o said. “It’s unfortunate when you miss out but you have to think about the team and the squad.
“I was just so happy it went well and to see Manu back firing after a few tough years for him. Maybe we’ll get the chance to play together one time.”
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