Boks ready to exploit Beale the bold
JOHANNESBURG: The Springboks were quick to apply the drip treatment on the new Wallabies five-eighth Kurtley Beale by arguing his selection will help their game plan during Saturday night's Test in Pretoria.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer took the dramatic step of dropping long-time pivot Morne Steyn for a home ground international at Loftus Versfeld, saying his replacement, Johan Goosen, will more than match the attacking capabilities of Beale.
While the Wallabies were arguing that moving Beale into the spot left vacant by Quade Cooper's knee injury will make their attack more unpredictable and dangerous, the Springboks countered that the opposition's eagerness to be adventurous will provide them with opportunities.
Kurtley Beale ... being targeted by the Springboks. Photo: Simon Alekna
The Springboks are aware Beale will be playing for the first time at five-eighth at Test level, and although accustomed to that role at schoolboys and provincial level, believe that at an inhospitable venue he could be vulnerable.
''The Wallabies like to open up the game from the kick-off, and try to keep the ball,'' Meyer said. ''As they are probably going to go with Beale at No. 10, their intention will be to move us around, and hopefully people will tire. But I like that, because this gives you chances to get turnovers, and you can score from that.
''They'll definitely play an attacking game, and that will also suit us because we are eager to open up the game as well. We want to score tries.''
Several weeks after Robbie Deans explained Beale's physical condition had to improve before he would be considered for a starting spot, the Wallabies coach said his controversial utility player was again primed for 80 minutes of Test football.
He argued Beale's dreadful performance showing against the All Blacks in Sydney was in the ''past history'' category. Beale had dropped some weight and was again fully fit.
''Because of injuries he entered this tournament not in an ideal shape,'' Deans said. ''He's in a far better shape now. No player likes to come up short, and he was frustrated because he couldn't do the things he wanted to do. And he was the first to concede he wasn't where he needed to be. He certainly wasn't in denial.''
After being convinced Beale was no longer carrying any extra weight Deans had no hesitation in making him the Wallabies new chief playmaker.
''I have never any doubt about picking Kurtley anywhere. Obviously he had an outing in Sydney which no one enjoyed. But he's such a capable player that he's never going to be down for long,'' Deans said.
''Playing at No. 10 is not an issue for him. He's such an instinctive player. One of the challenges for him will be deciding when to play and when not to play, because he is a bloke who does hold onto the ball and takes the game to the opposition.''
The Wallabies are keen to win for the first time in Pretoria, and helping Beale's case is that he knows how to destroy South Africa on the high veld. His last-minute penalty kick two years ago in Bloemfontein gave Australia their first win at altitude since 1963.
''That will help him,'' Deans said. ''Players have to encounter adversity. Things ebb and flow. You don't always have everything your own way. So to have those moments, those good memories in the back of your mind which you can draw from is important.''
The Pretoria Test will also be a moment of personal triumph for loose-head prop Benn Robinson, who will be involved in his 50th international. Robinson is one of Australia's unluckiest players, missing the past two World Cups with injury. He could be in line for 100 Wallabies Tests because he wants to still be around for the next World Cup, in 2015.
''Playing in a World Cup is definitely my ultimate goal,'' the 28-year-old said yesterday. ''Missing out on two World Cups is difficult to cope with. Last year was emotionally very tough for me … if I can tick that box by the end of my career that would be great.''
Meanwhile, there was a mishap at Wallabies training yesterday, with reserve forward Scott Higginbotham injuring his back in a collision with Nathan Sharpe. Team medical staff will assess Higginbotham's condition today.