England head coach Eddie Jones has admitted that rugby league convert Ben Te'o could be in contention for the summer tour of Australia, providing he is eligible to be picked. The explosive Leinster centre, who will play in the Aviva Premiership from next season after agreeing to join Worcester Warriors, was born in New Zealand and represented them at youth level before eventually earning one solitary cap for Samoa.
Te'o qualifies for selection through his mother and may follow in the footsteps of ex-South Sydney Rabbitohs teammate Sam Burgess by representing England in union. The latter also switched codes after winning the NRL in 2014, joining Bath and flattering to deceive at the World Cup before cutting short a three-year deal and returning to his former club.
"[Teo'o] could be one of them," Jones said. "He was an outstanding rugby league player. Absolutely outstanding. He can go through the line, he's got a short passing game and he hits. You don't want to run down his channel when he's defending at 12. Potentially, we're going to have three potential world-class options at 12 in Te'o, [Manu] Tuilagi and Owen Farrell. It's a great situation to be in and then we can just pick the one who suits the game."
When asked where such an embarrassment of riches at centre might leave versatile Exeter Chiefs star Henry Slade, he added: "Well he's got to play. Someone needs to tell him to start playing."
Jones invited controversy before the Six Nations by appointing Dylan Hartley as captain despite his questionable disciplinary record. The Northampton Saints hooker defied critics by leading his team to an impressive Grand Slam, but has been sidelined since suffering a concussion during the second half of the 31-21 win over France in Paris.
Rumours that he could return for the European Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens last weekend eventually proved unfounded, although there is confidence that he will be available to face Wales at Twickenham on 29 May. If not, then one of the three current vice-captains - Billy Vunipola, Farrell or Mike Brown - will skipper England in his absence.
"The medical reporting system is very good between the clubs and the rugby union. We know when we think he could be available, which is going to be towards the end of the season. I reckon one of the great things about rugby is that it's taking a proactive stand on concussion. The way the players are looked after now is absolutely first class. The thing we know at the moment is that Dylan is getting first-class medical treatment on his concussion and he will only come back to play when he's ready to play.
"You'll have to speak to Northampton about the exact date, but we are expecting him to play before the end of the season. And we're expecting him to be right for Wales."
England will announce their squad for Australia after the Premiership semi-finals, which take place between 20-22 May. Jones is set to name a travelling party of around 30 players and also hopes to have a full-time scrum coach in place before the tour gets underway. Former U-20 chief Ian Peel took the role on a temporary basis during the Six Nations after joining Saracens in December. Jones is also looking to appoint an English attack coach moving forward, although that will not happen before the summer.