Ben Te’o and Mike Brown dropped from England squad due to altercation during Rugby World Cup training camp

England have been vague about Te’o’s omission and his current whereabouts following an incident during their recent training camp in Italy

Jack de Menezes
Saturday 10 August 2019 13:14
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Rugby World Cup: England issue injury update

Ben Te’o and Mike Brown were dropped from the England squad by Eddie Jones following an altercation during a team bonding session.

The England camp have been unusually vague on Te’o’s absence given his importance to Jones’s plans for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, with the New Zealand-born centre left out of this week’s warm-up match with Wales as fringe player Piers Francis was preferred.

Speaking after England announced their squad for the opening Quilter International, assistant coach John Mitchell suggested that Te’o had been struggling with injury, although details of a suspected calf strain are not known due to the 32-year-old currently without a club after leaving Worcester Warriors at the end of the season.

“Ben wasn’t in the squad this week,” Mitchell said. “He was managing back. He wasn’t in full load. He actually participated in parts of training in the second week in Treviso.”

In fact, Te’o whereabouts this week are not known such is the uncertainty surrounding his current situation.

However, The Times reported that Te’o was involved in an incident with Harlequins full-back Brown during the team’s warm-weather training camp in Treviso last week, resulting in both being dropped from the Test-week squad.

It's understood that an "altercation" took place, but head coach Jones refused to discuss the matter.

"No I'm not able to confirm that,” Jones said when asked about the incident. “I'm not able to confirm. I think I've answered the question."

Thirty-three-year-old Brown, who with 72 international caps represents one of the most experienced players available to Jones, had forced his way back into England contention this summer, but his hopes now seem to be hanging by a thread ahead of Monday’s final 31-man squad announcement.

Te’o could yet be recalled given his importance to the squad alongside Manu Tuilagi, with the week-long absence proving to serve as a punishment for his behaviour. But it is not the first time that he has found himself in breach of the disciplinary rules imposed on the team this year after both he and No 8 Billy Vunipola were forced to apologise to the rest of the team following a late-night drinking session after the 38-38 Six Nations draw with Scotland.

Te’o was dropped from the England squad due to a reported altercation with Brown
Brown was dropped ahead of the Test against Wales

Given the two breaches of discipline in five months and England’s past record at overseas World Cups, Jones may well be wary of taking a player who could cause problems for him further down the line in Japan, and should Francis impress in Sunday’s Twickenham clash with Wales, he would have a major decision to make ahead of Monday’s announcement.

Brown meanwhile looks set to miss out regardless, with Jones having Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson and uncapped Ruaridh McConnochie all available this weekend and able to play at full-back or wing, while Jack Nowell continues his recovery from ankle surgery.

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