New Zealand v Australia, Rugby World Cup, October 16, 2011
Beale an injury worry for Wallabies
ESPNscrum Staff
October 11, 2011
Australia's Kurtley Beale receives medical attention during quarter-final against South Africa, Wellington Regional Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, October 9, 2011
Australian fullback Kurtley Beale is an injury doubt for Sunday's World Cup final against New Zealand with a hamstring strain © Getty Images

Australia have revealed that fullback Kurtley Beale is facing a race against time to be fit for Sunday's Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.

The 22-year-old is struggling with the hamstring strain that forced him to leave the field five minutes before the end of last weekend's nail-biting 11-9 quarter-final victory over the Springboks.

The Wallabies have described the injury as a "mild" strain and will continue to closely monitor Beale's progress during the week, but admit there is uncertainty as to whether he will be available.

"It's touch and go and Kurtley hasn't been ruled in or out," an Australia team spokesperson said on Tuesday. "Our team's medical staff is doing everything they can to get him to the starting line-up."

Beale's loss would be a major blow to the Wallabies with the free-running fullback a key asset in both attack and defence for Robbie Deans' side.

"He'll be a massive loss for us because Kurtley provides so much to the team, not only in attack but just in the mood and excitement of the group," said team-mate Adam Ashley-Cooper.

"Hamstrings are funny. They can keep you out for 10 weeks or 10 days, you just don't know. It all depends on how the recovery goes. We certainly have our fingers crossed for Kurtley."

Scrum-half Will Genia added: "It would be a big blow, but you'd have to deal with it. It's not something you can dwell on and worry about. He's a world-class player, but with the depth that we have in our backline, we'd be able to cope."

Ashley-Cooper could be asked to fill the No.15 shirt should Beale fail to prove his fitness and the utility-back - who filled in at outside-centre against South Africa - insists he would relish the challenge. "I've played my best football where I've actually been changed (positions) that week, so I'll welcome that challenge if it occurs," he said.

The Waratahs man also insists the squad have taken plenty of positives from their triumph over the Springboks despite being on the back foot for the majority of what was a physical encounter.

"You can take a lot out of it," he continued. "Knowing we had no possession, we played the majority of the game down in our own 22, they played all the football, they played great football. It was just sheer determination and guts that got us the result. We can take a lot of belief out of that. To get the result and go on further than we did four years ago was just pure relief."

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