After witnessing the plight of good mate James O'Connor, Kurtley Beale admits he feels lucky to have been given a fresh start by the NSW Waratahs.
Beale says he's learnt lessons from a tumultuous year, which included two suspensions by the Melbourne Rebels, and has vowed to follow through with changes he's made to improve his life off the field.
The sidelined Wallabies star is making a strong return from a shoulder reconstruction, and is on track to resume contact work in January, in time to press his claim for the Waratahs No.10 jersey.
O'Connor had his ARU contract torn up for disciplinary issues and was unwanted back at the Rebels next season, leaving a return to the Western Force - and a big pay cut - his only Australian rugby option.
The strong action taken by the ARU shows their patience has finally run out with a perceived brat culture element that's been destabilising the Wallabies.
Beale has signed a one-year deal to return to the Waratahs, where he made his debut back in 2007, and the star playmaker feels being back in Sydney with them can help him rebuild his career.
"I'm lucky the position I'm in now and I'm excited," Beale said.
"I've learnt from the things I've done in the past.
"I'd rather get them out of the way now than down the track when I guess it would be too late.
"Without going through those experiences I wouldn't be able to find out what I need to improve on.
"Coming back to the 'Tahs, it's an awesome bunch of blokes ... they show a lot of care and I'm grateful for the support."
The 24-year-old spent two weeks in a rehabilitation centre for alcohol-related issues, following an incident in South Africa where he was involved in a punch up with two Rebels teammates.
Beale said he's had to change some things off the field to ensure he doesn't go off the rails again.
"Everyone goes through life and you've got to tweak a few things here and there and I'm no different," he said.
"I'm going to stick to what I know best.
"I'm very thankful I've got through it now and I'm feeling very confident that with the support around me I'm able to go out there and live my life."
Beale spoke to O'Connor as recently as Tuesday night and is hopeful the 23-year-old will stay in Australian rugby.
"He's keeping a few things to himself at the moment which is fair enough," he said.
"He's obviously going through a tough time."
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika made it clear he wouldn't be holding Beale's hand.
He wants his marquee signing to take control of his life and be his own man.
"To be honest, I'm worried about my own headspace let alone (worrying about) others," Cheika said.
"I'm not going to muck around with that stuff, he's a man. He can make his decisions. Take responsibilities like everyone else and get on with it."