Ben Te’o has effectively brought an end to his England career by signing for Toulon on a short-term contract, having been left out of Eddie Jones’s World Cup squad.
Te’o was omitted by Jones last week after his altercation with Mike Brown at a recent training camp in Treviso and while the coach did not rule out calling on the 32-year-old centre in the event of injury, his move to France renders him ineligible with the Rugby Football Union refusing to pick players based outside England. Unless he returns to play for a Premiership club in the future, his international career is finished.
Before his altercation with Brown, Te’o had been seen as a key part of England’s World Cup plans – not least because of Manu Tuilagi’s chequered injury past – and has won 18 caps since being fast-tracked by Jones following his move from Leinster to Worcester in the summer of 2016.
While Jones has refused to confirm the incident in Treviso was to blame for Te’o’s omission, on naming his squad he said: “We’ve had that conversation with Ben. He understands it. Whether he agrees with it is another matter.”
Te’o left Worcester at the end of last season and after he was initially cut from the England squad two weeks ago he was left in limbo and forced to arrange his own personal training programme, having at that stage not yet signed for a new club.
His time with Worcester was notable for managing only 36 appearances in his three years despite his annual salary of around £370,000, earning plenty of criticism as a result.
But last month he told the Guardian: “What everyone else thinks is irrelevant. It didn’t bother me or anything like that. Fans can have their say.”
Te’o had also been linked with a move to Japan but has instead secured a move to Toulon until November, although there is every chance that he may extend his stay if he impresses his new club .
He is due to arrive at Toulon on Thursday and, assuming he gets through a medical on Friday, he will begin training with the three‑times champions on Monday.