Ben Te'o says Premiership rugby quality suffering due to relegation
By Press Association
Last Updated: 24/08/18 6:01pm
Ben Te'o believes the quality of rugby played in the Premiership suffers due to the threat of relegation.
The England centre's two seasons as a marquee player at Worcester have involved successive battles to avoid dropping out of the top flight, on both occasions an 11th place finish keeping them safe.
Apart from the ramifications it can have for the club in terms of redundancies, Te'o insists it forces teams to adopt a conservative gameplan due to the importance of every point.
"Relegation certainly doesn't promote great rugby," Te'o said.
"Obviously the weather plays a part, but if we're talking style of rugby then relegation is why teams are physical and choose to play it safe with lots of kicking.
"There's definitely a fear of losing because there's relegation hanging over your head and I'm at a club that has that fear.
"So do you play it safe? Yes you do. You kick three points, kick another three and then kick to the corners and maul it.
"You need to play like that because there are livelihoods on the line - if you go down people lose their jobs and have to move, kids have to be pulled out of school.
"I've never been in a team near the bottom of the table until I came to Worcester and it's not a nice thing. Ask any club near the bottom and it's stressful.
"The Premiership is a tough competition because it's physical week-in, week-out. I respect the PRO14 because there's some great rugby played there, but the Premiership is so relentless.
"Every week you have to play your best team or you'll lose. Other leagues can rest their international boys when they need to."
Te'o is recovering from the torn thigh muscle initially sustained during the Six Nations but then aggravated during a gym session in May, resulting in surgery that ruled him out of the June tour to South Africa.
A definitive date for his return has yet to be set, but he is hoping to be able to have a run of games with Worcester before the autumn series.
It was the second operation in less than a year after a high ankle sprain suffered in October left him on the sidelines for four months just as he wanted to build on the progress made during the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
"Since I've been at Worcester it's been an interesting ride with different directors of rugby and coaches, people coming and going," the rugby league convert said.
"I just want to get back fit, stay fit all year and play as many games as I can play. The other factor though is that if you're selected by England, you'll miss games for your club.
"But that's why the Rugby Football Union pay Worcester a fee for me to go, to subsidise my salary.
"It's a World Cup year so please God let me stay healthy, enjoy my rugby and get through the season. I'd love nothing more to go to Tokyo and experience a World Cup."