Beale firms as Wallabies’ five-eighth
Kurtley Beale looks likely to face a tough initiation as an international five-eighth with two Tests in five days on the back of a tough Super Rugby match.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has given his strongest indication he wants regular fullback Beale to play at No.10 in Australia’s tightly scheduled opening Tests against Scotland and Wales.
It’ll give Beale a gruelling week with his Melbourne Rebels playing the Brumbies on Friday June 1, Australia facing Scotland the following Tuesday and the first of three Tests against Wales four days later.
But Deans has rejected speculation he’ll name a B team to play Scotland.
He says Beale is vital to the Wallabies’ hopes of beating Scotland and Wales and is perfectly capable of playing three games in eight days.
“We’re chasing four wins in three weeks, that’s our priority. We will select in order to achieve that,” Deans said on Thursday.
“Hopefully he’s available for all four, because clearly he’s an integral part of our group.”
Beale has stepped up from fullback to five-eighth with great effect for the Rebels in the past month following the departure of England international Danny Cipriani and injury to James O’Connor.
And with Quade Cooper making a 40-minute return from a knee reconstruction for Queensland last week and still some time away from proving himself, Beale is first in line for the Wallabies’ No.10 jumper.
Deans says he’d like to see Cooper prove himself further with more game time in Queensland’s season defining Super Rugby match against the Brumbies on Saturday.
“This fixture this week is fantastic,” Deans said.
“These are the matches we can’t wait for because we see our playing group in a context as close as possible to Test match rugby outside the Test match arena.”
Deans says Berrick Barnes is still an option at five-eighth, but the Waratah is no certainty even to make Australia’s extended 34-man squad, let alone the starting 15.
O’Connor says he’s aiming for a return for the Rebels in late June as he recovers from a lacerated liver.
While Deans admits he’ll select different teams for the Scotland and Wales Tests, he’s abandoned the idea of only choosing Queensland and Western Force players to play the Scots.
“Because the Reds and Force have the bye the weekend before we thought it may be in our best interests to only pick them, but when it got closer to the event the reality is it’s a Test match and we want to win it,” he said.
“Some players will be asked to back up.”
But while Beale may be capable of playing three games in eight days, Deans says it’s much tougher for forwards to back up and the pack against Wales will have a different look to that which takes on Scotland.© AAP 2013
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