O’Neill backs Beale to play
Australian Rugby Union chief John O’Neill has no qualms about Kurtley Beale returning to the Wallabies side despite the brilliant back having to defend an assault charge.
Beale, who missed the first three Tests of the season due to a shoulder issue, has been named at fullback for Saturday’s third and final match against Wales.
The Rebels star was hit last week with a charge of common assault for his role in a nightclub incident in Brisbane on the Thursday night preceding the first Test against Wales at Suncorp Stadium.
Beale didn’t take questions on the issue at a press conference on Tuesday, but it was raised on Wednesday when O’Neill attended a one-year countdown to the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.
“That is a matter that will be dealt with through the courts and until such time there is a resolution, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be playing,” O’Neill told reporters on Wednesday.
Asked if Beale playing was a good look for Australian rugby, O’Neill said: “Let’s not pre-judge the outcome.
“There’s a lot of lessons to be learnt and are we concerned about that incident, of course we are.
“But I think it’s better for all parties that Kurtley play rugby in terms of helping him and any issues he may have, with the ability that he has and the care and the attention that he is receiving from Robbie Deans and the coaching staff.
“The best thing for that young man is to play the game.”
O’Neill said the ARU’S own disciplinary procedures in relation to Beale would be put on hold until the courts have dealt with the issue, but acknowledged it could take a while.
“That’s just the nature of the business we’re in. You can’t jump in and discipline him now when the matter is before the court,” O’Neill said.
“One would hope that it can be dealt with expeditiously, but it is what it is.
“Our disciplinary process will occur as soon as the court has resolved where they are on it.”© AAP 2013
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