Kurtley Beale says he's keen to move on from a controversial Crusaders loss, as the Waratahs turn their focus to the Highlanders.
Beale was struck in the throat by Crusaders prop Joe Moody t in the 35th minute of their 31-29 loss to the Crusaders, an incident for which the Crusaders prop has since been suspended for two matches.
The centre said he didn’t think to tell the referee about the hit at the time and was just trying to move on from the moment, with no ill-effects lingering.
It got me in the jaw a bit, in the neck but in the heat of the battle I had to continue on the next job and that’s what I did," he said.
SANZAAR’s refereeing panel for the Christchurch game was an all-Kiwi panel, sparking discussions about whether there should be more effort made to ensure there are independent referees officiating matches.
Former Wallabies and Waratahs backrower Stephen Hoiles said on FOX SPORTS that Australian sides needed to be craftier on the field and push the envelope with the laws, with a trend of New Zealand teams seemingly playing on the edge.
Beale said players couldn’t be drawn into that conversation, though.
”As a player, it’s a matter of knowing your job out there and making sure that you’re just focusing on the present and not worrying too much about the decisions or outcomes of a decision and as a squad that’s what we focus on,” he said.
“If you get too caught up in that sort of stuff you lose focus and you won’t be able to get the outcome you want in certain things.”
Beale said the fact the controversy hadn’t distracted them was a sign of the development of the Waratahs this season.
“I don’t think we have been caught up in it, which is a really sign of the maturity of the group,” he said.
"Michael (Hooper) handled it pretty well, he did all he could to keep us on track and make sure we’re focusing on the task at hand
“There’s a lot of character being shown in the group, a lot of improvement from last year’s team.
The Waratahs are halfway through a four-week run of facing New Zealand teams and have fallen three and two points short in their first two, and clinching a win against the Highlanders in Sydney is NSW's first goal.
It has been nearly two years since the Waratahs, or any other Australian team, has beaten a New Zealand side but NSW looks most likely after coming so close and Beale said a victory would be immense for the side.
“It certainly would boost the confidence, no doubt. We know if we have the belief in what we're doing out there on the field, we can put any team under stress and put a lot of pressure on them,” he said.
“I think that's a growth in our game is believing that we can take it to the top teams in the competition and once you have that, a lot of confidence starts brewing and a lot of these 50/50 passes will end up sticking, so it's a continuing progress and we'll keep working on that and try and deliver that performance that we all want on Saturday.”
All Blacks Ben Smith and Aaron Smith are expected to miss the match, required to rest for two weeks of the season ahead of Test duties, but Beale said he didn’t think that was a sign of complacency from the Highlanders.
Rob Simmons is expected to play, training fully on Tuesday.
The Waratahs take on the Highlanders on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.