Brisbane Broncos to move powerful backrower Ben Te’o into centres
By Matt Marshall
February 03, 2010
Brisbane Broncos backrower Ben Te’o is poised for a shock recasting into his club’s backline this season.
In a bold positional switch, coach Ivan Henjak has been busily moulding Te’o, who has slimmed his frame to 102kg, into a strike centre ahead of Brisbane’s 2010 NRL campaign.
Te’o, earmarked as a lead contender to link permanently with winger Antonio Winterstein or challenger Denan Kemp on Brisbane’s left flank, has trained in the backline line for the past month.
“Benny’s a genuine option there, he’s very mobile and he’s quite keen on the idea,” Henjak said.
“There’s a bit of competition and we’ll keep experimenting with it. We’ll throw Ben back into the forwards for a while now at training but in the trials we’ll give him a run in the centres.”
If he shines, Te’o will form an imposing centres pairing with Israel Folau, who will wear the No.4 jumper.
Other viable options at Brisbane’s disposal, should the bid to convert Te’o fail, include Winterstein, Alex Glenn, Steve Michaels and Gerard Beale.
“When I started training in the centres a month ago, I didn’t feel very comfortable at all, in defence or attack,” Te’o said.
“But the more I’ve done, the better I am at it. I’m feeling more and more comfortable. I feel I can change. It’s small adjustments but reading defence is a lot harder.”
The presence of Te’o on the left-centre shortlist is the latest example of Henjak’s willingness to use the versatility of his key forwards.
Last year, as Brisbane mounted a late-season gallop to within a game of the grand final, Te’o played several joint cameo roles with South Sydney recruit David Taylor.
He defended in the backline during the club’s best win of 2009, in Wollongong against St George Illawarra, while Taylor wreaked havoc in attack.
Te’o, who experienced a hot-and-cold debut season at Red Hill, now has an opportunity to press for a permanent 80-minute role outside the club’s star playmakers.
“This is probably the fittest I’ve ever been,” he said. "I’m fitter, stronger and faster so hopefully that can turn into results. I’m a bit quicker because I’ve lost a bit of weight.
“This year I know coming in what’s required of me on the field, what I’m going to cop in the media, the pressure, the fans - I know what it’s about now.”
Defending is really easy, when you don;t do it.
The other problem will be with ball in hand. The only time he would make any effort to touch the ball was within 5 metres of the opposition try line when there was a good chance of a bit of glory. With that sort of approach the attack down his side of the field will be pretty easy to contain.