Cheika reason behind Beale's return
February 22, 2014
Beale had a wayward season at the Rebels with several off-field incidents tarnishing his time with the side © Getty Images
Kurtley Beale has revealed how close he was to signing to the NRL after a troublesome season with the Rebels. Struggling to find a way back to Sydney, Beale told the Daily Telegraph that he was very close to switching codes before rediscovering his passion for NSW rugby.
"I let Melbourne down, I got the feeling they weren't interested in me any more," Beale said. "There weren't too many offers for me to pursue rugby, the only ones were a few overseas. In the position I was in, I was really fragile. I wasn't stable like I feel that I am now.
"So I just needed to be back around my family. I said to my manager are there any league clubs interested, I just want to be back home, and there were a couple. There were offers there."
Beale has been undergoing rehabilitation for alcohol abuse since an incident with Melbourne teammates during a South Africa tour last year, putting him on the outer with the Rebels and making him unappealing to other franchises. But a meeting between Michael Cheika and Beale, organised by Beale's manager proved a pivotal moment in his career.
"Cheik invited me out to his place, introduced me to his wife Steph and his kids, opened his home up, and it was the first time I'd met him," Beale recalled. "Instantly I felt like he trusted me, and at the time I felt like nobody believed in me anymore, because of a few indiscretions. I lost the trust of a lot of people, which is fair enough, I copped that on the chin.
"But Cheik said 'I believe in you, you'll fit into our style of play, you could be the missing link'. Straight away, he had me. Because at that time I didn't feel wanted, and that is why I've got a lot of respect for Cheik.
After carrying the enormous expectations of becoming the star to finally deliver a Super Rugby title to Sydney since the age of 16 as a schoolboy, Cheika's approach hit home for the wayward star.
"We went out the back to where his pool is, and just had a really good chat," Beale said. "He was straight up, he said 'I see you as equal to everyone else, your past is your past, I'm not going to judge you, I'm going to treat you the way I treat everyone else'.
"That's what I want, because at times people say you're better than this or that. I felt like people put you up there, and then you get cut down quick. And you go head first."
While he continues to battle his issues, Beale says that he finds inspiration in teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper in order to find on-field success.
"There have been a lot of distractions in the last couple of years, but I would rather go through that, see it and feel it back then, than when I'm married with kids," Beale said. "I've accepted what I've done in the past, I'm comfortable within myself in moving forward.
"I look up to Adam Ashley-Cooper, how he is so reliable on the field. That is something I want to achieve, to be that consistent player.
"My past is my past, but starting here at the Tahs, it's all new. There is a new style, a new attitude. I really appreciate being a part of the NSW Waratahs, and I am really grateful for the opportunity I have alongside some great players.
"Representing my state again, where I was born and bred, means everything to me. I was born in Blacktown, raised in Mt Druitt. When I went away, there were obviously a lot of distractions, there were a lot of challenges, I succeeded at some, was unsuccessful in others. I've moved on, and learned from that experience.
"There is a real good culture at the Tahs, from when I left it's different, it's always positive, you're always on edge and feeling as though something is happening just around the corner. That excitement makes it enjoyable waking up every morning.
"Coming into a team with Folau, Hooper, Ashley-Cooper, Palu, if I can add what I do to what they do, we'll go very close. It is an opportunity for a fresh start, a great opportunity to prove to myself that I can be a better person and a better team player.
"And to be honest, an opportunity to win a title."
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