Australian Rugby - Kurtley Beale
Beale in last-chance saloon - Brendan Cannon
ESPN Staff
May 12, 2013

Kurtley Beale risks being left standing alone if he continues to disrespect the people trying to help him overcome his problems with alcohol, former Wallabies hooker Brendan Cannon says.

Beale was suspended for the second time this season, missing Melbourne Rebels' Super Rugby match against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday, after he admitted breaching "behavioural protocols" established by the club, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and the Rugby Union Players Association in consultation with the player himself. Those protocols were established in the wake of the incident in South Africa when Beale, who had been drinking, punched then Rebels captain Gareth Delve and team-mate Cooper Vuna. It has also been reported that Beale was seen drinking in public at a Sydney club rugby match in April.

"There are only so many times a repeat offender can keep stuffing up before people stop caring," Cannon wrote in his weekly column for Rugby Gold. "And that is a dangerous prospect for Beale, who obviously needs a support network to deal with his alcohol issues. He needs to understand he plays a team sport, therefore he must consider others when making his decisions. To promise your employer that you won't drink alcohol, and break that promise the day after returning to the field from suspension, is astonishingly poor judgment."

"One more misdemeanour and he should be kicked out. I don't care if he goes to rugby league, AFL or the ballet" Brendan Cannon says Kurtley Beale must be on his last chance.

Cannon, who played 42 Tests for Australia between 2001 and 2006, is concerned that Beale "looks like he is getting such an inside run and preferential treatment" because he is expected to play a key part in the Wallabies' campaign to defeat the British & Irish Lions. "Beale is a player who can win Australia the series against the British & Irish Lions, but his personal welfare must be the primary focus," he wrote for Rugby Gold. "Rugby is a very distant secondary consideration at the moment. It is a shame because Beale has such extraordinary talent."

Cannon, now a respected rugby commentator and analyst for Fox Sports in Australia, noted that Western Force, for whom he played 18 Super Rugby matches at the end of his career, sacked Matt Henjak in 2008 after the half-back hit a team-mate, and only recently axed Alfi Mafi, one of their star players this season, for repeated indiscretions understood to involve alcohol. "Obviously the standards are not equal across the five Australian franchises, and it's unclear what the ARU intends to do with Beale now, having fined him $40,000 for his last transgression in Durban. This must absolutely be Beale's final chance in rugby. One more misdemeanour and he should be kicked out. I don't care if he goes to rugby league, AFL or the ballet."

Cannon believes that Beale's indiscretions must also have an effect on his team-mates, no matter what Rebels coach Damien Hill and Scott Higginbotham say publicly. The Rebels lost to the Blues by just four points on Friday night, after trailing by 19 points at half-time, and Cannon wrote that Beale "is sparking so many off-field distractions it would be impossible for [his team-mates] not to let it affect their preparations".

Would you pick Kurtley Beale in your Wallabies team to play the British & Irish Lions? Leave a comment below to join the conversation.

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