ROSARIO: Just four weeks after being dropped to the bench for a second time in three Tests, Kurtley Beale highlighted his remarkable turnaround by piloting the Wallabies to success in South America.
Beale, relishing his time as Wallabies playmaker, ensured he will remain in the No.10 Test jersey for at least another match after Australia's 25-19 win against Argentina in Rosario. With close amigos James O'Connor and Quade Cooper still recovering from injuries, the 23-year-old is a strong chance of finishing the year as the first-choice five-eighth.
He will line up there against the All Blacks in the third Bledisloe Test in Brisbane on October 20 in what will be a tougher test of his talents.
However, under immense pressure and in tough, slippery conditions where almost every other player made handling errors, Beale showed his class to take control of a young, patched-up back line.
Retiring Pumas great Rodrigo Roncero was announced to the 41,000-capacity Rosario crowd as the man of the match, but there was little doubt Beale was the most influential player. He showed great composure, kicked well, looked dangerous each time he attacked and laid on a try from the top-shelf for Digby Ioane.
Rookie centre Ben Tapuai, a decoy for Ioane's try as Beale fooled the Pumas' midfield defence, was rapt to be running lines two wide of Beale.
''Mate, it was awesome,'' he said. ''Just his talent, it lifts everyone up just a notch. He helped me with his chat and his skills. That ball he gave to Digby was world-class. It was unbelievable.''
Coach Robbie Deans also singled out Beale's halves partner Nick Phipps for controlling the game with Beale as Australia's forwards proved far more aggressive and efficient at the breakdown than in the 31-8 loss to South Africa a week earlier.
''Kurtley was very good,'' Deans said. ''He's a class act.''
He added that he had found the Wallabies backs-to-the-wall win particularly satisfying.
''I'm proud of the group,'' he said. ''I think tonight was evidence of the meaning to this group and obviously we've experienced a fair amount of adversity but we'll get the benefit of this time. One of our focal points was not to let the crowd in … They silenced the crowd early and they didn't allow [the Pumas] to get a leg-up. This is a fantastic experience for these blokes … it was genuine old-school.''