Back to the future for Beale as Bledisloe looms

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Kurtley Beale is all but certain of starting in his first Wallabies Test since 2015 this weekend, marking his return to Australian rugby.

It’s the same opposition, and it’s only been 22 months, but things have changed plenty since his last Test - the World Cup final in Twickenham..

Beale could barely hide his excitement on Wednesday, ready to play his first game of any kind since a hamstring injury in England, the centre confident he would be fit for Saturday’s Bledisloe opener.

"Obviously the body hasn't been playing for a bit, so training's been pretty good. I feel pretty good for Saturday,” he said.

Beale is in an unusual situation, immediately one of the more senior players in the side, despite having been absent from the Test fold since that World Cup.

Absence has only added to Beale’s perceived value, with the playmaker shaping up as one of the side’s most crucial players, potentially the dynamic key to unlocking the All Blacks.

But it’s the other side of Beale that could be crucial, an added element of maturity that began to come through in the World Cup and has only grown in his time in England.

The 28-year-old said he had taken on the chance to help some of the Wallabies’ younger faces, of which there are plenty, out ahead of Saturday.

“There's a bit of responsibility there to help these young guys come through and help them out in their preparation and in their mindset to tackle the week,” he said.

“At the end of the day we're all the same players, we're all wanting the one thing and that balance is certainly there and it's brewing very well so we've just got to keep backing each other, keep growing as a group.”

Players like Reece Hodge weren’t even playing Super Rugby, let alone Tests in 2015, and Beale said it’s added a different element to the Wallabies squad.

"There's a lot of types that are very new and I guess over the last couple of years they've gained that experience,” he said.

"But they've brought a lot of enthusiasm to the group. These guys are wanting to learn and grow as a rugby player and it's good balancing that out from what it was to what it is now.” he said.

Kurtley Beale has taken on more of a mentoring role. Photo: Getty Images

Israel Folau is one player who can’t wait to have Beale back in the side, adding an air of unpredictability to a Wallabies outfit that hasn’t won in Sydney since 2015.

“I've been looking forward to KB's return for a long time,” he said.

“It's exciting for him to be back in the Wallaby environment.

“All the guys are excited and hopefully I get that opportunity to play alongside KB at the weekend.”

“We're always confident, we always back each other up,” he said.

“We've been playing with KB the last couple of years so I think we've got a great combination.”

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks on Saturday, kicking off at 8pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Network Ten and via RADIO. Buy tickets here.