Wallaby wing urges Deans to recall mercurial Beale
Kurtley Beale, who made his comeback after treatment for alcohol-related problems in a Sydney club match yesterday, should be immediately reinstated by the Wallabies, according to his international team-mate Drew Mitchell.
The Australia coach Robbie Deans will add six players to the 25-strong squad he named last month on June 11. Beale, who has twice been suspended by Melbourne Rebels this year, played the full 80 minutes for Randwick against Sydney University, a match the Australia wing Mitchell also figured in. Beale played at fullback for Randwick and helped set up his side's first try in a 38-25 defeat.
Beale will train with the Wallabies in Sydney this week, increasing his prospects of making the final 31. Mitchell, the Australia wing, asked to play in the game to support his friend even though he had appeared for the Waratahs against the Crusaders in the Super 15 the previous day.
"Kurtley is on the right progression," said Mitchell. "I think if he was to get in the squad environment where he knows the people and the structures and with the intensity the Wallabies train at, it would not be too much of an issue. I am not forecasting his selection, but if he was picked, I would back the guy. I spent a day with him when he came out of treatment and he knows that he is getting a lot of benefit from it."
The Randwick president, Simon Poidevin, a former Australia captain, would have no qualms about playing Beale against the Lions. "He is a gifted athlete, he is fit and he has an X-factor the Lions would worry about," he said.
Beale was a permanent fixture for Australia in an injury-ravaged 2012, helping them to victories over England and Wales last autumn. The 24-year-old was first suspended by the Rebels three months ago for fighting with fellow players on the team bus and, after he had returned to the team, was banned again for drinking after a match. He checked into a health facility last month and is having counselling.
The Wallabies go into camp today with a number of fitness concerns after the weekend round of Super 15 matches. Three Waratahs players suffered injuries in Friday's defeat against the Crusaders: the second-row Sitaleki Timani broke a thumb, the back-row Dave Dennis pulled up with a thigh strain and the centre Adam Ashley-Cooper suffered knocks to his neck, knee and hand.
The conundrum for Deans in the coming weeks is whether to recall outhalf Quade Cooper, who yesterday helped the Reds, the Lions' opponents in Brisbane this Saturday, to victory over the Rebels, scoring his side's crucial third try after they had trailed at half-time, eventually winning 33-20.
Cooper will face the Lions and after the game Deans will make a call on whether to summon a player who last year criticised the coach, saying the atmosphere inside the Australia camp was toxic. He has not played for the Wallabies since, but Deans is under pressure to recall him.
Cooper was up against James O'Connor for the Rebels, the player Deans has said is likely to start at 10 in the first Test against the Lions on June 22.
Cooper finished with 16 points after going through the card with a try, drop goal, conversion and two penalties, redeeming himself after he gave away two tries at the end of the opening period when his attempted clearance kicks were charged down.
O'Connor kicked eight points and spent the last 16 minutes of the match at full-back. Deans has said that his decision not to pick Cooper had nothing to do with last year's outburst: his concern was the player's inconsistency.