Australian Rugby - Mark Ella Interview
Kurtley Beale 'throwing away his sporting life'
ESPN Staff
May 16, 2013

Kurtley Beale is "basically throwing away his sporting life", and his expected absence from Australia's squad to face the British & Irish Lions might haunt the Wallabies, rugby legend Mark Ella said in an interview with RuggaMatrix.

Beale is currently taking an indefinite leave of absence to "seek assistance in resolving personal issues" having endured a troubled few months, an altercation with Melbourne Rebels team-mate Cooper Vuna in March leading to an indefinite ban and substantial fine. He recently returned to the Super Rugby stage but picked up another suspension soon after for "breaches of agreed behavioural protocols" by drinking alcohol and missing a counselling session - two key conditions of his return.

Ella, who played a key role with his brother, Glen, in Beale's development from schoolboy prodigy at St Jospeh's College in Sydney to Super Rugby player with New South Wales, is glad the player has "voluntarily entered a private health facility in order to undertake counselling for ongoing issues".

"You would think that he is a mature adult," Ella told RuggaMatrix. "He should never have put himself in this position. I'm not putting blame on anybody, but he's got a management team: they should have been supportive after the first infringement - and I'm talking this year, not in the past. He's got to understand exactly what his commitments to the Rebels are, and the Australian Rugby Union [ARU] , and he's brought the game into disrepute. He was clearly told to stay off the booze, and within, what, a week, he's back on it. I know he wasn't intoxicated and carrying on stupid, but he broke team protocol and the ARU's protocols."

Mark Ella talks exclusively to Djuro Sen

Ella said Beale was "basically throwing away his sporting life" but he thinks the player can bounce back if he admits and accepts his issues with alcohol - as Crusaders and New Zealand wing Zac Guildford has done. "Kurtley after South Africa was saying he's OK with the drink ... [but] it's not right," Ella said. "It's all been round about grog. At least he's admitted that and put himself in proper care. I'm not saying he's alcoholic; he's far from that. But the incidents he's had have come about drinking too much."

"I think he'll bounce back," Ella said. "We need him playing for Australia. He's an exciting player, and the ARU and Victorian Rugby Union, and perhaps New South Wales Rugby in the future, need Kurtley Beale fit and healthy and playing well. He needs to put these distractions aside, he needs to own up ... but we may not see him against the Lions, and that'll be a tragedy for him."

Ella said the Wallabies could be left lamenting Beale's expected absence from their team to play the British & Irish Lions. "The difference between winning and losing, particularly against a team like the Lions, is the X-Factor the 'Three Amigos', James O'Connor, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale, could bring ... the Lions side is a strong side, but are there are superstars or X-Factor? I'd probably say no, and that's the difference between winning and losing."

Ella said he was proud to have played a role with his brother Glen in Beale's development as a young man. "Glen and I, particularly Glen, spent three or four years bringing him through; his last couple of years at Joeys and then into the Waratahs. It was great to be part of bringing up the next generation of indigenous Australian Test players. We were reluctant to let Kurtley go, but you can't hold a player or anybody against their own will, and K thought it was better going with another agency."

Wallabies legend Mark Ella talks Kurtley Beale, Lions tour, George Smith and Invincibles: watch the full interview at RuggaMatrix.

© ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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