Beale all class after England omission: Kepu

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Kurtley Beale will not have the chance to wear the Wallabies Indigenous jersey he played a part in creating this weekend but teammates say he has thrown himself into ensuring he contributes in any way he can.

Beale is Australia’s only current Indigenous Wallaby, and the 14th overall but the utility missed out on the matchday 23 to face England.

Coach Michael Cheika opted to stick with the combination of Matt To’omua and Bernard Foley in the starting team and with a six-two split on the bench, Beale was the one to miss out.

Cheika said Beale had addressed the group with some stories about Aboriginal history this week and reinforced the significance of the jersey, as well as pushing teammates in training.

Prop Sekope Kepu said the 29-year-old had been all class since finding out the news.

“He's a very special player and he's our only Indigenous player at the moment,” he said.

“He's obviously disappointed but I think he's carried himself well throughout the week and today especially demanding stuff from the guys, giving us in defence and in attack in training getting the guys to run the plays and everything.

The Wallabies have had a giant Indigenous jersey displayed outside their hotel this week. Photo: Getty Images“He's brought that energy quite well and he's been great around the group.

“We've all been in that situation...and we've all got to think about the team and what we can do to best prepare them for the weekend. I think he's done that quite well.”

Kepu said the jersey was about more than just Indigenous heritage, a representation of all Australians that they can take with them on the field.

The Wallabies are the only national sporting team to have donned a special Indigenous jersey after unveiling the design in 2017.

They have worn the jersey once before - a 23-18 win over the All Blacks in Brisbane last year - and Kepu said it certainly brought an extra element to the week.

“I guess you can say that (it gives us something extra) a little bit but we know the job at hand and the task that's ahead of us,” he said.

“To have that symbolised in the jersey and the patterns and all the designs that's put into it we carry the people with us on the field and not that we don't do it all the time but it's just that extra little significance that it's there and it symbolises where we're from and the people of the land.

“I think we had a victory against New Zealand last year in it and I think with some good luck charm, we can hopefully do that again this weekend but it's just very special to be able to wear that this weekend, it's something pretty amazing.”

Kepu has been named to start at tighthead for the first time in more than three months  - he last started in August's Sydney Bledisloe and had been playing as a loosehead off the bench in recent Tests with a season-ending injury to Tom Robertson.

It’s an opportunity the 34-year-old is keen to take with both hands.

“I was quite surprised,” he said.

“This year's been a tough one and we've definitely push each other as a front row.

“I've obviously had some time at loosehead and to get an opportunity this weekend at tighthead is massive and definitely something I'm really looking forward to and at Twickenham it doesn't get any better, so I'm just looking forward to it and looking to put my best foot forward and just do my best for the team.”

The Wallabies take on England on Saturday November 24, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports and SBS.