Kurtley Beale on "bad image" videos, London suspension and Larkham departure

Super Rugby
by Iain Payten

Kurtley Beale conceded his appearances in videos containing suspicious white powder were “a bad image” for the game but his mind is now focussed on rugby.

Beale spoke to the media for the first time on Tuesday since the Wallabies star was twice shown in leaked footage last month that appeared to also contain drugs.

The Wallabies star also addressed his "disappointing" suspension from the final Test of last year at Twickenham, in which the team wore indigenous jerseys, and spoke about the departure of mentor Stephen Larkham from the Australian coaching staff.

Beale was caught up in the media spotlight in January when he was seen in two leaked videos.

The first video showed Beale with rugby league player Corey Norman, and also showed an elderly man to snort a line of white powder. Beale was seen to laugh in the background.

The second video showed Beale playing a vacuum cleaner like a didgeridoo before showing a plate held by another person, which contained white lines of powder.

Beale rang Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle to apologise when the first video was released, and he was questioned twice by RugbyAU’s integrity department.

Beale was cleared of any wrongdoing but said on Tuesday he understood his presence in the videos was not a good look for rugby.

"The videos were, firstly, five or six years ago,” Beale said.

"I understand that it may have caused a bit of a bad image to the game and I understand that. 

"So it’s always important to do that type of stuff (apologising) and understand the responsibility that we have in the game as a player.”

The negative headlines and controversy have not affected Beale’s focus ahead of the Super Rugby season, he said.

"My mindset is pretty clear at the moment. That was a matter that was dealt with by Rugby Australia and Raelene, I have spoken to them and I have apologised at the time,” he said.

"Now my full focus is on the Waratahs and adding my bit to a successful campaign.”

Beale hasn't played a game since the Wallabies scraped home against Italy on the 2018 Spring Tour.

Along with Adam Ashley-Cooper, he was suspended for the final Test against England after breaking team protocol and entertaining guests in their hotel room in Wales.

It was a double-blow given the team wore indigenous jerseys at Twickenham, an idea pushed by Beale - the team's only Aboriginal player.

"It was obviously disappointing to miss that game but obviously the decision to not play that game, you just have to respect that and move on and make sure you learn from those decisions and make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.

Beale said he'd learned plenty under Larkham and said he hadn't experienced a huge amount of confusion in the Wallabies' attacking systems, due to differences between the backs coach and head coach Michael Cheika. 

"A little bit but a lot of the senior guys in that group had a huge responsibility in how we went out and approached the game. It was a bit of a combination of everything really," Beale said.

"It wasn't that much of a big deal, we covered everything. We had a huge review after that last game last year and everyone understands what is required now as a player to make sure last year doesn't happen again.

The Wallabies debuted their Indigenous jersey in 2017. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"It was great to be under Bernie's wing for all those years, he obviously has a great mind on how to read the game. I certainly learned a lot and now he has moved on, but no doubt we will be able keep continuing ... how he got the backline together and continue that moving forward.

"I got on really well with him and I know a lot of the other backs did as well."

After being rested for the opening week of Super Rugby as part of a Wallabies resting schedule, Beale will return for the Waratahs in Japan this week against the Sunwolves.

"It was a good opportunity to get a bit extra running in my legs, and make sure the body is ready to go when the opportunity comes,” Beale said. 

"Obviously I would have liked to be out but there is a plan in place for certain players this year.

"It was obviously tough watching the lads play on the weekend. It’s obviously great that Super Rugby has now started and it is a huge year for rugby.

"I am pretty keen to get back into it."