Wallabies put Beale on ice, Genia to return for June

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Kurtley Beale will not feature in the Wallabies June Series, but halfback Will Genia will likely take the number one halfback role and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika would like to see him return permanently.

Cheika confirmed on Thursday that Beale, who suffered a hamstring injury in Wasps’ Premiership semi-final against Leicester, would be kept on ice until the  Rugby Championship.

Genia, however, will be back in action for the Wallabies, with the first-choice Test halfback set to return to Australia next week after a Champions Cup playoff with Stade Francais.

“Kurtley won’t be coming back, I spoke to him, and I think (it's) the right thing, talking to the physio and that, considering the injury status he had before he left and now a couple of niggles towards the end of the season," he said.

“I’d rather he just has a month off, keeps himself in some kind of nick, has a preseason or version of a preseason before the Rugby Championship.

Cheika said he was confident Genia could feature in the Wallabies’ June 10 series opener against Fiji in Melbourne.

“I won’t have a plan for him in particular, it’s more about the other halfbacks and what I might want them to get,” he said.

As for finding Genia a more permanent home, after reports the Reds would be unable to afford the halfback with Nick Frisby and James Tuttle locked into long-term deals, Cheika said he would be ‘crazy’ not to help him find a place in Super Rugby.

The 28-year-old has not made a secret of his desire to come back to Australia, and indeed back to Queensland, but their contracting hands are currently tied, though the club denied 'snubbing' the veteran.

Genia's situation is a complex one, with his French club originally buying out the rights to his contract from English club Bath, so even if he received an early Top 14 release, a homecoming would not necessarily be straightforward, or cheap.

Cheika said while he couldn't directly influence clubs' recruitment choices, his obvious preference would be to have Genia playing in Australia.

“Obviously it’s pretty clear in my thinking for the first Test where I see him in the pecking order, so I would be crazy not to say, ‘is someone going to pick this bloke up? Like, hello?,” he said.

“But I think there’s a bit more to it that just, ‘We’ve got these players,’,” he said.

“I think people are waiting to see how it’s going to end up around recruitment as a whole, what’s going to end up happening with the salary cap.

“There’s going to be some things happening there but I’m very committed to bringing him back, regardless.”

Cheika said he would have no qualms putting  Beale back in the lineup for the opening Bledisloe Cup match on August 19 in Sydney.

The Waratahs have all but ruled out playing Beale in their final two Super Rugby matches, but Cheika said his stance would remain regardless of whether he had a domestic run.

“From my end, I’m happy to run him first cab off the rank,” he said.

“He knows enough about footy ,what happens at their (the Waratahs') end is between those guys, but you never say no to those guys playing for Australia, that’s for sure.”

Cheika will name a 33-man June Series squad next Tuesday night, LIVE on FOX SPORTS’ Kick and Chase program.