Toulon sign England international Ben Te'o on a short-term deal

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Toulon have signed England international Ben Te’o on a short-term deal.

The 32-year-old centre has signed for the French club until November as cover while the 2019 World Cup is on.

Te’o, who left Worcester at the end of last season, has not made Eddie Jones’ squad for the tournament in Japan and has opted to play for the Top 14 club.

His World Cup omission came two weeks after being involved in a scuffle with team-mate Mike Brown during a social event at the squad’s training camp in Treviso.

Te’o will travel to France on Thursday and will have a medical 24 hours later.

The New-Zealand born centre, who was part of the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour to his homeland, spent three years with Worcester.

He made his England debut in 2016 and has won 20 caps, but did not get a seat on the plane to the Far East.

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All Blacks drop Owen Franks, Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane as Steve Hansen cracks the whip

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Owen Franks.

The All Blacks have dropped three of their top players before the second and final Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia on Saturday.

The Wallabies’ record win over the All Blacks in the opening Test last weekend has led to New Zealand coach Steve Hansen taking drastic measures.

Prop Owen Franks, who has played 108 Tests and won two World Cups with the All Blacks, and 79-Test winger Ben Smith have been dropped, along with winger Rieko Ioane.

Crusaders wingers Sevu Reece and George Bridge have been elevated to the starting lineup in place of Smith and Ioane. It will be Reece’s second Test and Bridge’s fourth.

Nepo Laulala will start at tighthead prop, replacing Franks. Hansen did not mince his words when asked if the trio had been dropped.

“Well, they’re not playing, so you can say they’ve been dropped,” he said at a press conference on Thursday.

“Obviously we’d like Ben, Owen and Rieko playing better, but we’ve made decisions because we’ve got to find out more about these other people in big pressure-cooker situations and you don’t get much bigger than this one – it’s why we’ve got so many people here this week,” Hansen said, noting the large media turnout.

“Everyone’s excited about it and it’s a challenge we have to face up to.”

Hansen was also asked if the changes were “a big call”.

“It’s not that big a call because as I’ve just said to you, we’ve got to find out more about these other people. To win a World Cup we’ve had to roll the dice a bit. That’s the number one priority, but we wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t think the other guys weren’t good enough to do the job on Saturday if we play well.

“What happens if we get to the World Cup and Ben Smith blows a tyre, or Rieko blows a hamstring, and we’ve got to put a young guy in there who has never faced pressure like this before? It’s ideal.”

Hansen finished the press conference by saying the world champions had been “punched on the nose” by Australia last weekend, and that “they’ve got one hand on the cup and we’ve got to take it off them”.

Australia have to beat New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday – something they have not done since 1986 – to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2003.

The Wallabies have announced only one change to their starting side.
Adam Coleman moves off the bench to partner Izack Rodda in the second row following a hand injury to Toulouse-bound Rory Arnold.

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Rugby Championship: Emotional win for Wallabies as Christian Lealiifano is key in Argentina win

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Christian Lealiifano played his first game for the Wallabies in three years.

Christian Lealiifano steered Australia to a 16-10 Rugby Championship victory over Argentina – in Will Genia’s final Test at his home stadium – upon returning to the Test stage following his battle with leukaemia.

Lealiifano – who last played for the Wallabies in 2016 – kicked 11 points in Brisbane as the Wallabies recovered from last weekend’s defeat to South Africa, albeit in unconvincing fashion.

Reece Hodge scored Australia’s only try on 32 minutes and Lealiifano extended Australia’s lead in the second half to 16-3 before leaving the action.

Nicolas Sanchez kicked a first-half penalty before Argentina staged a late rally when number eight Facundo Isa crashed over and Joaquin Diaz Bonilla converted.

A week after their disappointing 35-17 loss to the Springboks, the Wallabies gave Genia a fitting farewell at his home ground prior to his retirement from Tests after the Rugby World Cup.

He was outstanding against the Pumas, organising the backline brilliantly and often getting the Wallabies out of trouble with a fine kicking game.

Three penalties from Lealiifano saw the Wallabies home in front of 32,000 supporters at Suncorp Stadium.

Former bad boy James O’Connor also came on in the second half for his first appearance since the Wallabies tore up his contract in 2013 following a series of transgressions.

Genia is retiring after the World Cup.

Genia is retiring after the World Cup.

The Wallaby defence, which leaked five tries in last week’s loss, was vastly improved this week as they easily handled the threat from the dangerous Pumas outside backs.

They held the visitors tryless until six minutes from full-time when number eight Isa crashed over at the back of a rolling maul to get the Pumas to within six points.

The win will give under siege Australian coach Michael Cheika some breathing space after a series of poor results in 2018 and their defeat at the hands of the Springboks.

However, the Pumas will rue their lack of discipline in Brisbane.

The visitors, who were so impressive in their 20-16 loss to the All Blacks last weekend, dropped the ball at key moments.

After Lealiifano and Sanchez traded early penalties, Argentina should have scored the first try in the 25th minute, only for front-rower Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro to drop the ball a metre out with the line wide open.

They were punished five minutes later when Australian winger Hodge finished off a fine attacking move which started from a scrum on the 22 metre line.

Lealiifano found Marika Koroibete on the inside, the big winger then dummying to centre Samu Kerevi before passing to full-back Kurtley Beale.

Beale then drew the defence before giving Hodge a simple run to the line to give the Wallabies a 10-3 lead at the break.

Lealiifano made it 16-3 in the second half with two penalties as the Pumas began to struggle at the scrum.

The Wallabies always looked in control, but they let the Pumas back in the game when they conceded a penalty at the breakdown with five minutes remaining.

From the ensuing line-out, Isa barged over to get the visitors within striking distance.

But they never looked like overhauling the Wallabies and an Argentina knock-on in front of their own posts was a fitting end to the game.

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