Controversial back Kurtley Beale will be a welcome addition to the Wallabies’ European tour, according to captain Michael Hooper.
Controversial back Kurtley Beale will be a welcome addition to the Wallabies on their European tour, according to captain Michael Hooper.
The Australian Rugby Union confirmed earlier press reports on Friday that Beale and back-rower Jake Schatz would be joining their team-mates in Europe to bolster the Wallabies squad for the final two games of their tour against Ireland and England.
“The Qantas Wallabies have made two changes to their squad with backrower Jake Schatz and playmaker Kurtley Beale to join the team in Dublin ahead of next Saturday’s match against Ireland,” said an ARU statement.
“Their inclusion comes with experienced backrower Scott Higginbotham returning to Australia after being unable to overcome a hamstring injury he initially suffered in the opening game of the Spring Tour against the Barbarians.”
Hooper said the squad were looking forward to welcoming Beale back into the fold following his indiscretions last month.
“The players are really excited. It’s unfortunate that someone like Scotty Higginbotham has to go home but in saying that you bring over two fresh guys, really excited to get in the squad.
“That’s Schatz and KB. We know they’re both going to bring some really good enthusiasm coming into the back end of this trip.”
Beale has not played for Australia since the Wallabies’ loss in Cape Town against South Africa on September 27.
On the flight to Argentina for their next match the following weekend, Beale had an argument with then Wallabies business manager Di Patston, which quickly descended into a major scandal engulfing the Australian Rugby Union and leading to the resignations of Patston and Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie.
Beale was fined a total of Aus$48,000 ($41,700, 33,500 euros) for sending an offensive text message to Patston and sanctioned again later for being rude and disrespectful to Wallaby team management on the flight.
Hooper said all that was now in the past and that the team are simply focussing on their European tour.
“We’re looking forward to the weekend, we’re always looking forward. Enough’s been made about all that in the past week so for us it’s nice and comforting to just focus on the weekend and on the games.
“We’ve got France tomorrow night and Ireland next weekend, so what KB and Schatzy will bring to that is enthusiasm going into a Test situation. It’s going to be really nice and a refreshing feel for the team.”
ARU chief Bill Pulver, himself under pressure for his handling of the saga, warned that Beale, who previously wrestled with alcohol problems, was on notice for the final time.
New Wallabies coach Michael Cheika had indicated that Beale had been left behind due to fitness, rather than any disciplinary issue, and that he could join the camp at some point.
Hooper believes the call-up could help Beale overcome some of his off-field problems.
“To be back involved in the group will get him positive, really happy and itching to get on the field,” said Hooper.
“So once he’s content off the field it all translates to on the field performances and hopefully we’ll see that.”
Beale and Schatz are heading straight to Dublin, where they will join the rest of the squad on Sunday.