16 Jun 2017

Te'o says playing against All Blacks would be "just a game"

5:02 pm on 16 June 2017

British and Irish Lions midfielder Ben Te'o says a Test match-up against the nation of his birth would be "just a game" and hold no special significance.

Lions centre Ben Te'o in action against the Crusaders.

Lions centre Ben Te'o in action against the Crusaders. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 30-year-old Te'o, was born in Auckland but moved to Australia as a 17-year-old to play rugby league going on to play for the Wests Tigers, Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL, winning a premiership in 2014.

He also played State of Origin for Queensland before moving to Ireland to play rugby for Leinster jumping across to Worcester and the English set-up, playing eights tests for England .

But a match-up with the All Blacks - a likely proposition given Te'o's positive showings on tour so far - would be unremarkable in his eyes, and comparable to matches against Australia or South Africa.

"Things change, times change, I've gone on a different journey through Australia, through rugby league, to Europe to learn rugby all over again," Te'o said.

"I can't say it'd be any more special than playing the Springboks or Wallabies or anyone else, so if I get that opportunity, I'd be very happy and proud of the achievement - but I can't say it'd mean anything more than a rugby game."

Te'o, with his penchant for crashing beyond the gainline with his 106kg frame, will line up at second five in Saturday's clash with the Maori All Blacks.

Ben Te'o scores for England.

Ben Te'o scores for England. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It is a dizzying ascent for a man who returned to the 15-a-side game barely three years ago.

Te'o insisted a Lions call-up was far from his mind when making the move from Leinster to Worcester in the 2016 off-season.

"I suppose sometimes I sit back and think about my transition into the game, how some people think it has come along quickly, (and) for me it probably doesn't feel that quick - but I'm still proud of the steps I've taken," Te'o said.

"There's no time to be looking around thinking, oh how good is this, just being happy where I am - it's all about going out there and challenging."