Kurtley Beale absolved by Wallabies team-mates
September 1, 2014
Kurtley Beale struggled to make an impact as five-eighth in either Bledisloe Cup Test © Getty Images
Wallabies prop James Slipper says it's unfair to isolate Kurtley Beale for criticism after the side's 51-20 Bledisloe Cup humbling by the All Blacks in New Zealand.
Beale struggled to fire as five-eighth at Eden Park thrashing, and Bernard Foley seems likely to replace him at fly-half against South Africa in the Rugby Championship Test at Patersons Stadium in Perth on Saturday. But James Slipper acknowledges that the playmaker didn't receive much help from his team-mates in Auckland.
"He's a class player, we all know what he can do," Slipper said on Monday. The night wasn't his night. A part of that has got to do with the forward pack and the players around him. We didn't stick up for him and give him really good ball.
"Our decision-making across the game could have been handled a different way. We've learned from that. It was definitely a reality check. We take full responsibility for what happened that night. It's in our hands to change that this weekend."
Beale could be switched to inside centre or the wing against the Springboks, with the Wallabies needing to find a replacement for retired Pat McCabe, but coach Ewen McKenzie is also pondering a number of other changes in a bid to get the side back on track.
Scrum-half Nic White and inside centre Matt Toomua could be axed in favour of Nick Phipps and Tevita Kuridrani, while James Hanson will replace injured hooker Nathan Charles for his first Test start. Former Wallabies skipper James Horwill is also pushing hard for a recall after producing an impressive 40-minute display for Brisbane City in their National Rugby Championship win over Perth Spirit on Sunday. And Western Force centre Kyle Godwin is also pressing for a call-up after returning from a knee injury.
Slipper, meanwhile, said the Wallabies forwards pack were bracing for a backlash this weekend from the Springboks, whose powerful scrum copped a rare beating in the team's 33-31 win over Argentina in Salta.
"It would be childish of us to go in there thinking we are going to physically bash the Springboks up," Slipper said. "With their performance against the Argentines in the set-piece, I'm expecting them to improve out of sight and really come at us there. They're always the biggest team running around. You always know it's going to be a hard battle. They'll be keen to get out there and assert their dominance on us, and we'll be trying to do the same."
The Springboks are set to recall lineout master Victor Matfield, and Slipper said the Wallabies would be up for the challenge.
"We all know what Matfield can do, and how he picks apart other teams' lineouts," Slipper said. "There's no doubt we'll be working really hard there and coming up with a few different tricks."