If Kurtley Beale returns to Australia, Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika says he won’t be just a gap filler in the Test team.
Beale became the ultimate utility for the Wallabies in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, before a knee injury kept him out of the Wallabies fold in June 2016.
The 60-Test back is currently weighing up whether to stay with English club Wasps for another season or to return to Australia, though he could play for the Wallabies regardless of where he plays his week-to-week rugby.
“I think if you look at Beale before, he wasn't starting,” Cheika told the Australian Rugby Union's official website.
“He was hole-fixing, but I think it will be different for him this time. I've got a clear vision of what I want him to do within the team.
“I know it's only been a year – but in that year there's been a big change in the Wallabies squad as well.
“He'll come back with a slightly different stature I'd say. I want him to then play accordingly.”
Beale’s absence gave rise to the emergence of Reece Hodge, who became the regular starting 12 for the Wallabies.
With Matt Giteau unlikely to play for the Wallabies again, Beale would be the number one option at 12, with Cheika picking that as the ex-Waratah’s best spot and said he had laid out Beale's potential Test role in a bid to encourage him to come to Australia.
“We've said we want him to come home, this is what we think his place in the team is and then he's got to assess that,” he said.
"Whatever happens, it's (his contract) going to be less than he gets offered at Wasps, that's for sure, based on what he got offered last time – even they just did that same thing again.
“It's going to be a matter of whether he wants to come home and be an instrumental part in his team, in the Australian team, and lead-up to the World Cup.”
Beale is by no means the only player that has been in discussions with Australian rugby – new contracts have already been announced for Reece Hodge, Lopeti Timani and Sam Carter this season, while Scott Fardy and Rob Horne have confirmed they’re heading overseas.
It’s a give-and-take that’s becoming familiar for Australian fans and Cheika.
“When a player wants to commit and say i'm coming back here or I'm staying here, I know I'm going to get paid less but I'm buying into this vision, that's what we want to have,” he added.
“And then, if we lose some I understand that too but I don't hold that against them. They might come back later on, who knows?”
While Cheika has made no secret of his desire to bring players back from overseas, he said was was widening the Wallabies net in his Super Rugby backyard.
“I feel like I've got a different way of looking at who's doing what in the games and who to pick into the squads," he explained.
“(We’re) comparing those players in a more relevant way, that's going to say, ‘Hang on a second just because he's playing all these years, he's not doing that – let's have a look at this guy,' and take a punt."
Curtis Rona is one player Cheika might just take a punt on, with the Wallabies mentor impressed by the ex-NRL star’s first two matches for the Force, along with his centre partner, Bill Meakes.
“I always thought Rona was going to do well,” he said.
“I think it was just a matter of he'll need a bit of time. I think he'll be very similar to how Ben Te'o's gone for England.”
The new generation has also caught Cheika’s eye, with Izack Rodda, Adam Korczyk, Andrew Kellaway, Tyrel Lomax and Melbourne Rebels full-back Jack Maddocks all on his radar after the opening Super Rugby rounds.