World Cup - Beale relishing licence to thrill

Fri, 02 Sep 06:34:00 2011

Kurtley Beale just cannot wait to display his prodigious talents at his first World Cup and is relishing the freedom to exploit them that Australia coach Robbie Deans has encouraged.

RUGBY Australia's Kurtley Beale and Will Genia - 0

In 2007, Beale was a teenaged fly-half of much promise but considered too spontaneous, or perhaps ill-disciplined, to play the prescriptive tactics John Connolly imposed on Australia at the World Cup in France.

Four years on and the 22-year-old is settled at full-back and has just enjoyed a stellar week, scoring Australia's winning try in the Tri-Nations decider against the All Blacks in Brisbane and on Thursday winning the John Eales Medal as the outstanding Australian player of the season.

Beale is smart enough to know that talking obsessively about yourself is not going to win you many friends in a team game like rugby union and rarely completes a sentence about his own talents without lauding the contribution of his team mates.

Still, there is no disguising his delight at the liberation he has experienced since New Zealander Deans took over from Connolly after Australia's quarter-final exit in 2007.

"Obviously you've got stick to strategies in the team but Robbie gives us the licence to go out there and take opportunities when you see them," Beale told Reuters.

"There's not many opportunities these days at test level because teams do their homework.

"In any case we're all about the team, we've got a really great forward pack at the moment and they're doing a great job in giving us the ball."

Beale has been dealing with questions about his talent since his mid-teens, when he was earning comparisons with great Wallabies fly-half Mark Ella, with whom he shares indigenous Australian heritage.

He was training with the New South Wales Waratahs from the age of 15 and two years later was invited by Connolly to attend a training camp with the Wallabies.

Although there were still flashes of brilliance and he made his Wallabies debut in 2009, there was a sense that his career was plateauing until he moved to fullback for the 2010 season.

He has not looked back since, thriving in the extra space away from the traffic at flyhalf and consistently finding ways to break through opposing defences.

Beale also offers a decent goal-kicking option as he showed last year when he nervelessly converted a last minute 55-metre penalty to earn Australia a first victory over the Springboks on the high veldt in 47 years.

Now comes the chance to play on rugby's biggest stage.

"I just can't wait," he said. "We've got a lot of balance, some old heads and some really young guys so it's very exciting.

"For me it's a good opportunity to show people what my talents are, but, in saying that, you can't really focus on yourself, it's often the guys around you that make you look good.

"If you focus on yourself too much you get lost out there.

I'm just very happy to be part of this, it's a fantastic opportunity and a great honour and privilege."

Although the Faingaa twins Anthony and Saia have Aborginal heritage through their mother, Beale is the highest profile indigenous Australian in the squad.

He is looking forward to following in the foosteps of Ella and the likes of athlete Cathy Freeman and rugby league player turned boxing world champion Anthony Mundine.

"Obviously going into battle with other countries, I'm very proud to be indigenous Australian," he said. "There's not many Aboriginals who have represented on such a world class stage.

"You look at some of the role models, your Anthony Mundines and Cathy Freemans and so many more. Hopefully I'll be able to do a good job as a role model for the younger indigenous Australians out there."


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