Ben Te’o is unafraid of the hostility that awaits when England face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday after revealing he plans to visit North Korea with Jonny May. Te’o has been discussing the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with May, and the pair have decided to embark on a backpacking trip to the country.
“Me and Jonny have been watching a lot of documentaries on North Korea. That’s what he’s quite interested in. We chat a lot about that,” Te’o said. “I sent him a few links on documentaries I thought he might be interested in. We’ve had quite a few chats and coffees about how we can fix the situation there. There’s a lot that needs to be done.
“Jonny wants to do a backpacking trip. He said: ‘We need to go before things get bad’. I said ‘I don’t know if it’s worth it, it’s quite dangerous’ but he said ‘I’m pretty keen on it.’ Maybe we’ll be reporting to you live from North Korea in the summer. Jonny is interesting. I like being around him. I like talking to him about what he gets up to and what he’s thinking.”
May has emerged as one of the England squad’s comedy characters, described by Tom Youngs as a “space cadet with X-factor” while Eddie Jones said he would like to spend a day inside the Gloucester wing’s head.
May is set to continue on the right wing for the RBS 6 Nations showdown in Cardiff with Te’o reprising the impact replacement role he performed to such destructive effect in Saturday’s 19-16 victory over France. The Worcester centre arrived on to the pitch in the 69th minute and 93 seconds later he had carried twice and picked a smart running line to score the decisive try, setting a new record for the fastest touch down by a debutant in the Championship.
It was his fourth cap — all have been won off the bench — and the 30-year-old accepts his current role, described by Jones as a “finisher”.
“You’ve got to be patient. Eddie’s talked to me about that. I didn’t get a go on the tour to Australia last summer but I left feeling quite motivated to really train hard and have a good start to the next season,” Te’o said.
“Now that I’m getting in and getting a bit of a taste of it, it makes me want to keep improving and keep pushing.
“I understand that strong teams are more like strong squads and that you need depth and you need people to all pull in the right direction.” Auckland-born Te’o, who qualifies for England through his mother, has a nomadic CV that includes rugby league for Samoa, seven appearances for Queensland in the State of Origin and spells at Leinster and Worcester in union.
Meanwhile England soccer boss Gareth Southgate visited England’s training base in Surrey yesterday and addressed the Grand Slam champions’ backroom staff as part of an exchange of ideas with Eddie Jones. Southgate watched from the sidelines, along with Australian netball coach Lisa Alexander.
“We’ve had a brilliant learning day today with Gareth and Lisa,” said England head coach Eddie Jones.
“As we’ve always stated our aim is to get better everyday and we want to get people into camp who have knowledge and great experience to learn from them.”
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