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Top sell Cheik, now play Beale at inside centre and get things firing

The NSW Waratahs need to lift their game and should probably look to Kurtley Beale for inspiration. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
Expert
10th March, 2017
111
3411 Reads

A long chat with Wallaby coach Michael Cheika made up Kurtley Beale’s mind – he’s not going to take up a second year option with London Wasps, and is coming home to the Waratahs and the Wallabies.

No definite date has been fixed, but the Aviva English premiership final will be at Twickenham on May 24, and with Wasps on top of the table, it’s a fair bet the famous London club founded in 1867 will be in the decider.

Beale has been a revelation with Wasps, both on and off the field.

It wasn’t that long ago Beale, James O’Connor, and Quade Cooper, the ‘Three Amigos’, were grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons.

It seems O’Connor will never learn, while Beale and Cooper have left those bad old days behind them and are playing up to their rich talent.

I first saw a spindly head-geared 15-year-old Beale play in the St Josephs College first XV in 2004.

He had the hands and deception of a Mark Ella, he read the game in advance like a Tim Horan, and he had the speed with the ability to beat an opponent like a David Campese.

That was one helluva 15-year-old.

Beale spent three years in the Joeys top side, and was far and away the best footballer in the GPS competition, captaining the Australian Schoolboys.

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He was like Ken Catchpole at Scots and Jim Lenehan at St Ignatius in the mid 50s, and John Brass at Sydney High in the mid 60s – simply superb.

A special mention of Lenehan who was also a cricketer, and even more outstanding as an athlete winning the GPS senior shot put and hurdles in back to back years – the most unlikely of combinations.

He also boasted the biggest boot I’ve ever seen with long range penalties and clearances into touch to match the acknowledged biggest rugby boot of all time in All Black legend Don Clarke.

But now Beale is returning home, Cheika must play him at 12 and Israel Folau at 13, pairing the two most exciting Wallaby backs where they can do the most damage.

It’s no secret Folau is at his most dangerous best when Beale is playing, but all too often Beale’s been on the bench, and Folau has been at 15.

A tragic waste of talent.

But a Wallaby backline of halves Will Genia and Bernard Foley, centes Beale and Folau, wingers Reece Hodge and Samu Kerevi with fullback Dane Haylett-Petty would set rugby fields on fire the world over.

All those possibilities remain to be seen, but for the moment well done Michael Cheika in being instrumental to bring Kurtley Beale back to where he belongs.

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But Cheika mustn’t blow the good work by keeping Beale in the backwater, as he’s done before.