Kurtley Beale enjoys first Tahs training session
November 2, 2013
Michael Cheika has an embarrassment of riches in his backline for 2014 © Getty Images
Beale turned out at Waratahs training on Friday for the first time since undergoing a shoulder operation, and coach Michael Cheika said he was looking forward to the selection dilemma presented by the player's return to challenge for Folau and Foley respectively for the team's fullback and five-eighth spots when that pair get back from the Wallabies' tour of Europe.
"[Beale] has that flexibility as a playmaker no matter where he plays," Cheika said. "If he plays at fullback or at five-eighth, he can do that job for us. Obviously we have a few issues to decide as to how the shape of the side will pan out. But what I am looking for when everyone gets back is how they'll compete with each other. That's what I'll decide from."
Cheika said, however, that he would not move Folau to the wing, as Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie tried before seeing better value in the player at fullback. "He can play in a few positions, but I wouldn't be a big fan of playing him on the wing ... I don't think that will happen," Cheika said. Folau could play at outside centre should Cheika decide Beale is the best fullback option.
Beale started at the Waratahs as a teenage five-eighth, and he's also spent plenty of time in that role for the Wallabies. But Cheika has a high regard for incumbent Foley, whom he persuaded to reverse a decision to move to Melbourne Rebels for next season. And he noted that Foley, like Beale, offered great versatility, including another fullback option.
"You can see that from the bench the Wallabies have picked, [Foley] is obviously covering the wing, fullback and a few other places as well," Cheika said. "I invested a lot into him last year and he made a massive decision to stay with us even though he was offered plenty to go with other people. I'd like to reward that."
Bernard Foley is admired by Michael Cheika who "invested a lot into him last year" © Getty Images