Eddie Jones has condemned the previous England regime’s handling of Sam Burgess and is convinced the latest rugby league recruit Ben Te’o will succeed where he failed.
Burgess departed union having completed just one season of his three-year contract at Bath due to his disillusionment at the hosts’ World Cup performance, the criticism of his selection and the ongoing debate over his most suitable position.
Now Te’o, pictured, has been fast-tracked into England’s squad for their three-Test series against Australia and is in contention to start the opener in Brisbane on Saturday at inside centre.
The 29-year-old has been taken under the wing of skills coach Glen Ella, a former Wallabies full-back, but Jones believes that he has already proved himself during two seasons at Leinster.
“Burgess was a non-event in England’s confused strategy at the World Cup, but he would have been an excellent Test player if he’d had the will to stick at it,” Jones told the Brisbane Courier-Mail.
“Rugby league is not a skilful game, it’s a game where you’ve got to hurt people. Tough guys like Te’o bring something extra to a squad, a bit of an intangible, plus he’s done the hard yards in 50-odd games for Leinster.”
Jones has played a central role in the development of seven former league players who have State of Origin experience with Te’o the latest in that lineage.
The Australian believes exposure to the annual three-match series between Queensland and New South Wales offers a telling indicator in the likelihood of a successful change of code.
“There is a massively high correlation between those who have been successful Origin players and then made a really good fist of rugby,” Jones said
“If they haven’t done that there’s a huge correlation with them being average rugby players. That’s why I have high hopes for Ben Te’o. He’s cut it at the highest level of rugby league.”