Kurtley Beale will return against Rebels
January 24, 2014
Kurtley Beale is "very fit, he's in very good shape" © Getty Images
Kurtley Beale is set to make his comeback from shoulder surgery against his former club when New South Wales Waratahs play Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby pre-season match in Albury on February 1.
Beale returned to Sydney after two years with Rebels, after a forgettable 2013 headlined by disciplinary problems, rehabilitation for alcohol-related issues, and the shoulder reconstruction that forced him to miss the second half of the season.
Beale's fellow Wallabies Adam Ashley-Cooper, Michael Hooper and Israel Folau are unlikely to play in the opening trial after returning to training only last week, but assistant coach Daryl Gibson says Beale will definitely play.
"Kurtley has come through the pre-season very well. I've been impressed with him," Gibson said. "He's steadily got better and better and I think as the confidence has grown with the shoulder, he's really getting stuck into the contact now. He's very fit. He's in very good shape."
Beale is likely to battle with Bernard Foley for the fly-half's jumper, with Gibson confirming the Waratahs are unlikely to move Folau from fullback. "Israel Folau has had such a stellar year at fullback and, in my opinion, he's one of the best fullbacks in the world and we'd be loath to shift him from that position," Gibson said.
Gibson said that former Reds utility back Jono Lance was viewed primarily at as an inside centre. "We think along with Rob Horne, we've got two blokes who are contrasting different inside centres and that will serve us well for the type of games we want to play."
Lance is happy to be thought of as a centre.
"I played a lot at fullback in the Reds and that's something that I enjoyed doing, but I see myself as more of a centre," Lance said. "You get your hands on the ball a bit more often, so that role for me coming down here is something I want to take with both hands."