Rugby: Beale looks the goods as playmaker

Kurtley Beale. Photo by Getty
Kurtley Beale. Photo by Getty
Kurtley Beale will take on the Wallabies' playmaker role in their Rugby Championship Test against South Africa after winning over coach Robbie Deans.

The Australian coach was openly critical of the condition and form of the exciting 23-year-old after he had a shocker in the opening match of the four nations competition, and he has since failed to crack a starting jersey.

But ahead of their Test in Pretoria on Saturday, Beale looked back to his devastating best running at No.10 at the Wallabies' training session in Johannesburg, with Berrick Barnes at fullback.

Australia's five-eighth in their last Test against Argentina, Quade Cooper, is unavailable for their final two games after requiring knee surgery.

The high veld has been a happy hunting ground for Beale, who slotted a match-winning penalty goal in Bloemfontein after the siren against the Springboks in 2010 which broke a 47-year drought at altitude in South Africa.

Beale impressed at No.10 when he lined up there for the Melbourne Rebels in the Super Rugby competition and can re-establish himself as a starting Test player against the Springboks.

Deans showed his faith in Beale when he handed him the goal-kicking duties for an important penalty goal towards the end of Australia's 23-19 win against Argentina on the Gold Coast last Saturday night.

The Wallabies' training on Tuesday was disrupted by a gastro bug that has hit six players and three members of the coaching staff.

Forwards Liam Gill, Scott Higginbotham, Sitaleki Timani and Ben Alexander were all on restricted duties while skipper Nathan Sharpe and prop James Slipper trained after making a recovery.

Hooker Stephen Moore also sat out training after aggravating his troublesome hamstring injury.

Queensland's James Hanson is on standby to fly to South Africa should Moore's scans provide bad news.

Meanwhile, the Wallabies won't let comments by their disillusioned teammate Cooper distract from their preparations for Saturday's Test.

The five-eighth said there was a "toxic environment" in Australian rugby set-up.

But utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper said there was no unrest in the camp.

"This won't be a distraction for us," Ashley-Cooper said.

"There's a great buzz in the squad and we're excited to be here.

"We've had two good wins in this competition and we feel we're building as a group."

Cooper's twitter tirade on the weekend targeted the conservative game plan of Wallabies coach Robbie Deans and the Australian Rugby Union set-up.

Both have so far declined to respond.


Add a Comment