Ben Te’o’s decision to call time on his England career by moving to French side Toulon “stinks”, says former England back Ugo Monye.
The New Zealand-born centre, 32, signed a short-term deal with the French Top 14 side shortly after being left out of Eddie Jones’ World Cup squad.
It means Te’o, who was involved in an off-field altercation at an England camp earlier in August, cannot be called up as an injury replacement.
“I’m disappointed,” said Monye.
“I think it is borderline disrespectful. For me, playing for your country is the pinnacle. It is something that millions of people dream of doing and only a few get a chance to do so.
“You can’t come and swear allegiance to the country and then the moment things get a bit bumpy, catch the next flight to the south of France. It doesn’t sit well with me at all.”
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Te’o switched from rugby league to union in 2014 and won his first England cap two years later.
Since then, he had been continually picked by Jones but the former British and Irish Lion is now reportedly set to play for Japanese side Sunwolves after his Toulon contract is finished.
Te’o was without a club after leaving Premiership side Worcester at the end of last season, but Monye does not think this excuses his behaviour.
“I know he doesn’t have a club and he doesn’t have finance, but I’m sure he could have offered his services to a Premiership club as a World Cup joker, he could have got a club,” he added on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly.
“There are those sitting on standby waiting for a phone call and keeping fit because the World Cup is something they all want to be part of. After the patience and investment that was put into him, to effectively stick his fingers up to the Rugby Football Union is not great.
“England have been great to him and my understanding is that he did not make a phone call to let them know he was off to Toulon, I think that is poor.”
‘Willi Heinz will want to be number one’
Te’o’s absence from the World Cup squad came as a surprise to some, as did Gloucester scrum-half Willi Heinz’s inclusion in the 31-man group.
England head coach Jones tried out several number nines as back-up for starter Ben Youngs and eventually settled on 32-year-old Heinz before the World Cup warm-up matches began.
And after Youngs put in a shaky performance during England’s 57-15 win against Ireland, experienced England scrum-half Danny Care, who was left out of the squad, said Heinz “is not there to make up numbers”.
“If he is in the best form as a scrum-half between him and Ben, he is gong to play,” added Care.
“I think Ben would understand that. I think Ben would have to play quite poorly and Willi would have to play well when he came on for that to happen.
“But Willi Heinz will want to be number one. If Ben has another game like at the weekend, then you never know, Willi is knocking on the door and will be asking questions of the coaches.”