The Waratahs are ready to be better in 2018, and so am I

Kurtley Beale Columnist

By Kurtley Beale, Kurtley Beale is a Roar Expert New author!


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    Kurtley Beale is ready to make an impact for the Waratahs. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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    I grew up playing rugby league and watching New South Wales play Queensland in State of Origin. It’s the kind of event where the passion and pride you can see in the eyes of the players as they run out is simply unmistakable.

    That’s one of the reasons I keep coming back to the Waratahs – I’ve had stints at the Rebels and more recently Wasps, but I was born and bred in Sydney, I’m a proud New South Welshman, and to be able to represent this state is one of the best things that I’ve ever achieved.

    I’ve got special relationships here and there are many great fans and loyal members out there that always come out to support the team. To be involved in that is something that keeps me going and makes me appreciate being here at the Waratahs.

    The Waratahs gave me my first opportunity. To be able to pull on the jersey again in 2018, I’m excited, and with all the experiences I’ve had over the years and the knowledge I’ve built up over that time, I’m ready to come back and have a big impact.

    Spending time in the northern hemisphere playing for Wasps has made me a better player and prepared me to have that big impact on my return to Super Rugby.

    It allowed me to regroup and rejuvenate myself. I learned a lot about myself both on and off the field, and I also learned a lot about rugby. I’m coming back refreshed and with a good attitude, ready to approach my rugby at a different level.

    I got a new look at the way the game is played, met new players, new friends. There are huge talents up there in the northern hemisphere, different styles, different coaches, different players. It was an eye-opener but I’ve come back with more knowledge.

    Holistically looking at the game, the best thing about rugby is that there are so many different ways to play it. Northern hemisphere teams are really big on set-piece dominance, the way they control the ball with pressure and their kicking game. You don’t really get that much down here. It’s something that I’ve really taken to, and that’s helped me become the player I want to be.

    I had the opportunity to do that with the Wallabies in the back-end of last year and I felt like it was good – the challenge now is to continue my form from the end of last season and bring that into the Waratahs’ campaign.

    There’s more to improve in my game, and going up to Wasps allowed me to pick up on different skills and learn to look at the game in a different way. That’s going to allow me to be a better player. Now that I’m home, I’m excited to pull all the pieces together and hopefully contribute to a successful Waratahs season.

    Folau Beale

    (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

    Those have been some big changes for me but things have changed at the Waratahs as well. The biggest change is the way we’re playing – there’s going to be a big focus on defence this year.

    It’s something that last year was a disappointment to a lot of the guys and the coaching staff – but we’ve put a big emphasis on defence, we’re changing our mindset and attitude so we can be more effective on game day. I can see it amongst the team.

    The performance of the team in the Brisbane Tens showed a lot of the trademarks that we’ve been working on in the pre-season. There’s a lot to work on, but there’s a lot of positives there, and it’s something we’re looking forward to building.

    It’s a young group, they’re enthusiastic, and there’s a lot of good energy. These guys are putting their hand up saying they want to make a difference, and we’re telling them instead of trying to make a difference in attack, let’s make a difference in defence.

    When I left in 2016 and in the seasons before that, we had a certain identity in terms of how we played the game – we wanted to throw the ball around, create space for our outside backs, and be a dominant forward pack.

    The challenge for us this year is to play a brand that all of our fans and the rugby community can not only respect, but love watching. As players, it’s at the forefront of our minds and we’re going to do anything we can put our best foot forward and deliver those performances. It’s something to look out for.

    I’m an optimist and I believe any team in the competition these days has the opportunity to be successful, to win, to hold the trophy in the end. I don’t think any player rocks up to a game not thinking they can win.

    For us, we’ll be happy to fly under the radar, slowly grind teams down, and hopefully get the right results. We’re doing all the right things to take it to the next level.

    The Waratahs begin their Super Rugby campaign this weekend at home against the Stormers, so be sure to get your hands on a NSW Waratahs membership before the season starts so you can access all home games in 2018.

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    The Crowd Says (56)

    • February 22nd 2018 @ 6:05am
      P2R2 said | February 22nd 2018 @ 6:05am | ! Report

      …The performance of the team in the Brisbane Tens….still lost though… as for flying under the radar….I think they never rise to the occasion – oh except for 2014 when Joubert got a penalty call wrong against the Crusaders….but yes he is a good player but as for the Tahs being better in 2018….wishful thinking at best

    • Roar Guru

      February 22nd 2018 @ 6:23am
      Harry Jones said | February 22nd 2018 @ 6:23am | ! Report

      Thanks for the article, Kurtley, and best of luck for the season, but could you please start playing good only AFTER this first game against my young Stormers?

      • February 22nd 2018 @ 7:38am
        Agreed! said | February 22nd 2018 @ 7:38am | ! Report

        Go Stormers.

        Stormers by 5

      • Roar Guru

        February 22nd 2018 @ 8:50am
        Machooka said | February 22nd 2018 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        This comment reeks of a ‘Pensive No 2 Pic’!?! 😉

        Thanks KB… c’arn da Tahs!

      • February 22nd 2018 @ 3:37pm
        sean said | February 22nd 2018 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

        Was thinking the same thing Harry.Kurtley and Folau combo scares me wrt what they capable of vs our boys with ball in hand.Hope we can pull off an upset against them…

    • Roar Guru

      February 22nd 2018 @ 6:34am
      Fionn said | February 22nd 2018 @ 6:34am | ! Report

      Good words, Kurtley, and it’s nice to hear that you’re mature enough to admit that despite being the great player you are that you still have aspects you can improve on.

      For the sake of Aussie rugby I hope you’re right about yourself and the Tahs this year.

      • February 22nd 2018 @ 10:26am
        Malo said | February 22nd 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

        This comment has been removed for breaching The Roar’s comments policy.

        • February 22nd 2018 @ 10:29am
          Fionn said | February 22nd 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          Really, Malo? Why feel the need to do that on an article in which everyone is being positive about Kurtley?

        • February 22nd 2018 @ 10:55am
          Cynical Play said | February 22nd 2018 @ 10:55am | ! Report

          Dich-head comment malo

          • February 22nd 2018 @ 10:58am
            Fionn said | February 22nd 2018 @ 10:58am | ! Report

            Ain’t that the truth.

    • Roar Guru

      February 22nd 2018 @ 6:44am
      Kia Kaha said | February 22nd 2018 @ 6:44am | ! Report

      Thanks for the article, Kurtley.

      Imagine there was an origin type game in Union. Let’s hypothetically say it’s right before the start of the international teams pitting all the Wallaby hopefuls against one another.

      That’s the context, now here’s the question. You can choose the other Super franchise to team up with so with whom would you like to combine the Waratahs and why?

      • February 22nd 2018 @ 8:00am
        Malo said | February 22nd 2018 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        That’s how the wallabies use to be picked After qld vs nsw games. Nsw will kill it. Humiliate qld and the rebels

        • Roar Guru

          February 22nd 2018 @ 8:53am
          Kia Kaha said | February 22nd 2018 @ 8:53am | ! Report

          So how many Brumbies in your side, Malo?

          • February 22nd 2018 @ 10:20am
            Malo said | February 22nd 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

            This was pre brumbies, I’d have 4 brumbies in the side of Pocock is fit.

          • Roar Rookie

            February 22nd 2018 @ 10:43am
            Boomeranga said | February 22nd 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

            If Brumbies of NSW origin, I’d have Sio, AAA, maybe Carter, the Arnold brothers (controversial as NSW born but I think Qld educated), and Nick White as a former brumby. I don’t think many of the backs are from NSW.

            • Roar Rookie

              February 22nd 2018 @ 11:00am
              Paul D said | February 22nd 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

              I think Dargaville is the only Brumby back with any real connection to NSW. Incidentally, I think Powell is the only one with any real connection to the ACT! Lots of Kiwi’s, Figians, Queenslanders and a bit of Vic and WA in the mix

    • Roar Rookie

      February 22nd 2018 @ 7:20am
      Paulo said | February 22nd 2018 @ 7:20am | ! Report

      Good luck Kurtley, rooting for you guys.

      I hope you are right and the team comes together.

      See you on Saturday!

    • February 22nd 2018 @ 7:29am
      Jamie said | February 22nd 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      Go tags! Can’t wait