Mikey Te’o to captain the Rhinos
Mikey Te’o will captain the Rhinos at the 2020 World Tens Series, with the news confirmed by Head Coach Ryno Combrinck at the squad capping meeting in Bermuda earlier this week.
The US Eagle, who has just under 30 caps for his country, is one of the more experienced members of the Rhinos squad and is excited to be given this opportunity.
“I am honored to captain this great Rhinos Team. I thank the leaders of Rhinos Rugby Academy for giving myself and my teammates the opportunity to compete in such a great tournament.
“We are excited to finally play some rugby this year and want to inspire the youth of the Rhinos Rugby Academies all over the USA and (soon) South Africa to work and train hard, and also enjoy themselves as we will be doing in the coming weekends.
“I feel blessed to be here in Bermuda and playing rugby.”
The 27-year-old California native has spent the last few years at the San Diego Legion. Te‘o did travel to the UK to play for London Scottish earlier this year however, never managed to take the field, with COVID-19 suspending the campaign.
Having not played rugby since January at the Coral Coast 7s Festival in Fiji, Te’o is looking forward to running out with the Rhinos on Sunday.
“I’m very excited, this is a great opportunity to play some rugby“ said Te’o.
“Most of us boys haven’t played since January or February, so we can’t wait to get out there. I’ve been itching to play for a while, I only got to do some touch rugby in the last few months, which is not the same.“
Comfortable playing across the back line, Te’o is one of the players in Bermuda who has experience of playing 7s and 15s and believes the Tens format will more likely suit players from a 7s background.
“For me it is probably going to be closer to 7s. Usually you want three players in the ruck and the third person to play scrum half, it is a bit of a change of mentality for the 15s players because their main job is usually to secure the ruck and that is the only job, unless they play scrum half.“
Having come up against a number of his Rhinos teammates in the MLR, there is a little familiarity to the squad. He even came up against one squad member at the Junior World Cup back in 2013.
“I have played against a few of my teammates, I actually played against Jurie (Van Vuuren) at the Junior World Cup back in 2013 in France and I have played against a few of the guys in the MLR.
“Training together has actually been pretty good, we have a solid group in our coaching staff and we are trying to get to know each other, work out how we play and what each others strengths are. We have been doing a lot of running, trying to get that fitness in, because it has been so long since we played.“
Following the news that the tournament start will be pushed back by 24 hours to allow Tropical Storm Epsilon to pass by, that gives Te’o and his squad of players a little longer to wait. This isn’t the first time this has happened to Te’o who was in the US Eagles squad at the World Cup in Japan last year when a typhoon halted match action.
“I was in Okinawa in Japan when the typhoon hit, so I’ve been in a smilar situation before. It gives us that little extra time to prepare, so we wll take it.“