Super Rugby
Beale must be 'managed' if he is to survive
March 29, 2013

Melbourne Rebels and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) should take a cue from the Brumbies' management of Andrew Walker if they are to ensure Kurtley Beale is not lost to Australian rugby, Eddie Jones says.

Walker signed for the Brumbies in 2000, a man with known and acknowledged "problems" with alcohol, and Jones, then Brumbies coach, has written in a News Limited column that the franchise "knew we needed to look after him to give him a chance to play well".

Phil Gould, Walker's NRL coach at Sydney Roosters wrote of the player in a 2004 column for Fairfax Media: "They would take him away drinking for days on end. I can't tell you the number of times his manager Wayne Beavis and I had to find him and bring him back to reality."

These are the issues that Jones faced when he signed Walker.

"For example, the first time we took 'Walks' on tour to South Africa, we allowed him to take his wife," Jones wrote for News Limited. "The senior players agreed to this rare variation from the norm, and Walks ended up being the leading try-scorer for the Brumbies for two years. We gave him a chance to be successful. In sport, you can never change the character of people, but you can give them the chance to be successful so they utilise the talent they have been given."

Beale has similar known problems, even if they are not fully acknowledged publically by the player himself, with Jones writing that the player "does not have the self-discipline to withdraw himself from a situation where alcohol and emotion are abundant".

"Alcohol in a Durban bar and the emotion of a badly under-performing team with a poor team culture were a tricky mix a week ago," Jones wrote. "Where does Beale go from here? He needs to be managed smartly. He needs good people around him who understand the danger signs and can manage him."

Fairfax Media, meanwhile, reports that two potential sponsors have pulled out of negotiations with the club, citing the weekend's incident plus the infamous jacuzzi photograph of Beale and James O'Connor posing with equally controversial Reds players Digby Ioane and Quade Cooper.

Fairfax has also reported that Beale's camp has questioned why the Rebels took him on tour with the squad even when he was not available to play, saying it was asking for trouble; others, however, have said the decision was made to ensure he remained in a supportive environment.

Beale is off contract at the end of the year, and he remains the subject of reports that he will return to New South Wales Waratahs or head to the NRL.

Jones wrote that Beale "needs to understand that the chances he has are now limited because one more incident may be breaking point". Equally he wrote that the Rebels and the ARU must give the player "a chance to redeem himself", citing how other sports stars with "issues", such as Wayne Rooney, Andrew Symonds and Johnathan Thurston, have been managed successfully.

"Can rugby do this for Kurtley Beale," Jones asked in his column. "I hope so."

© ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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