Kurtley Beale ready to fire against Rebels
January 29, 2014
Kurtley Beale has no mental doubts about his reconstructed shoulder © Getty Images
Kurtley Beale is eager to prove a point against Melbourne Rebels in their Super Rugby pre-season trial in Albury on Saturday, desperate to secure the New South Wales Waratahs' No.10 jersey in the face of fierce competition from Wallabies team-mate Bernard Foley.
Israel Folau is all but guaranteed to line up at fullback for the Waratahs in round one, leaving Beale and Foley to fight it out for the five-eighth position. And Beale, 25, will put his reconstructed shoulder through its paces for the first time since off-season surgery last year when he lines up against former team-mates who could be excused for wanting to sit him on his backside.
Beale has a symbolic chance to wipe the slate clean in his return for NSW against the Rebels after his 2013 season in Melbourne was marred by injury and regrettable off-field incidents, and he's glad to be knocking the match-up on the head in the pre-season.
"I think the sooner the better [to play the Rebels]," Beale said.
"I feel good about myself now. I feel confident in myself, physically I feel stronger, and mentally I feel fresh. I'm looking forward to a big one. I don't have any hostility towards my ex team-mates. They were a great club and obviously a very young team. My focus is purely on the Waratahs. I've got a role to play here and a big role. If I don't get that right, there are a lot of other players there knocking on the door to take my position."
Beale has been in full contact at training for three weeks, and he says he has no mental doubts over his shoulder.
"I had some big boys running at me a couple of times and put myself in some positions where it was pretty vulnerable," he said. }I feel I've done all the hard work to go out there and play the game."
Beale said he was "definitely putting my foot forward for fly-half", but Foley, who debuted in Beale's last game for NSW before he defected to the Rebels, said he was also up for the No.10 challenge.
"It's exciting," Foley said. "Healthy competition should bring the best out of you. Hopefully, it will be a positive going forward, and both of us can contribute and be a part of a successful year."
"Hopefully it will be a positive going forward, and both of us can contribute and be a part of a successful year."
Beale, who said his shoulder felt strong after off-season surgery, played fullback ahead of Folau in the Lions series but admitted he had eyes for Foley's jersey given the sizzling form of Folau at fullback for the rest of 2013.
"Position wise I'm definitely putting my foot forward for flyhalf," Beale said.
"Obviously Izzy had a stellar season there last year and really filled that fullback role really well. But at the end of the day wherever "Cheik" wants me and feels that where I need to be I'm happy to be there and do the job for the boys."
Foley knows, too, that he is the incumbent fly-half who last yea became just the second Waratahs No.10 to play the entire season since Beale led the Tahs to the final in 2008. And those strong efforts saw him win Wallabies selection, which he believes will result in even greater form this season.
"It was great to get a taste of that and be in that environment," Foley said. "You see where you have got to get to, and also find the true weaknesses and strengths of your own game when you are measuring them up to the elite players of not only your own country, but players around the world as well.
"You do get a lot of confidence and hopefully this is the time now I can come back and implement some new things, and things I learned being away [with the Wallabies]; both the strengths and in the areas I can find improvement."