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Off-field woes no distraction to Beale

Date

Greg Growden

The last laugh ... Kurtley Beale, who has been recalled, enjoys himself at training.

The last laugh ... Kurtley Beale, who has been recalled, enjoys himself at training. Photo: Steve Christo

KURTLEY BEALE can concentrate on his on-field performance against Wales on Saturday as Wallabies officials made it abundantly clear yesterday that discussing his latest off-field drama involving an assault charge was off limits.

Shortly after Beale was announced in the Wallabies' line-up for the third and final Test at Allianz Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the media were told coach Robbie Deans and the new fullback could not comment on ''an outside circumstance'' as it was subject to legal proceedings. There was even the possibility of the media conference being ''cut short'' if queries were made.

The ''outside circumstance'' revolves around Beale being charged with assault by Queensland Police following an incident at the Victory Hotel in Brisbane before the first Australia-Wales Test. This follows an alleged altercation with a security guard in the early hours of the morning.

Due to uncertainty over how long the police matter will take to be resolved, the ARU has halted its disciplinary process relating to Beale, who in recent years has been at the centre of several off-field incidents.

This includes Beale in 2010 being found not guilty of assaulting his 17-year-old female cousin, while last year he had a charge against him dismissed after he was caught illegally driving a car he had been given as an award.

Yesterday the message had to be all about Beale's football prowess.

''I can't wait for the Test,'' he said. ''It's been a while now, after injuring my shoulder, so I'm very excited about the opportunity. And Wales are an exciting team to play against. I'm just raring to go and grateful to be part of it.''

To prove his injured shoulder was again ready for Test football Beale was involved in a tackling session with former Wallabies centre and now Rebels assistant coach Nathan Grey last weekend.

''He's one hard man, and I surely felt confident after a session with him,'' Beale said.

He added that he was anticipating Wales would target him with the high ball, explaining: ''They've got some really good kickers and good strategies there.''

Deans said Beale ''obviously had some off-field challenges to deal with'' and that being sidelined ''has been frustrating for Kurtley''.

''The players enjoy playing with Kurtley and he certainly enjoys playing,'' Deans said. ''He's been working hard and got a clearance, so it's good for all parties. This is not a decision plucked out of nowhere.''

To include Beale prompted some tough decisions, the most notable being that the man who won them the last Test, Mike Harris, is not in the squad. From being the hero, Harris has been demoted to a spectator.

He loses out because Beale's versatility gives the Wallabies the luxury of having an extra forward on the bench. ''Having a five forwards-two backs bench split is part of it, and with Kurtley available to us, he has the ability to cover not only those positions but also the goal-kicking which was asked of Mike,'' Deans said.

''It was a great piece of character when Mike stepped up at the end to win that Test. So it's obviously no reflection of what he did in the game. I guess when you are omitted it's probably better to be under that circumstance than the other.''

Adam Ashley-Cooper, who has excelled at fullback against Wales, moves to the wing for Beale's return.

Wallabies team to play Wales in the third Test at Allianz Stadium on Saturday: Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes, Will Genia, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock (capt), Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, Sitaleki Timani, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota Nau, Benn Robinson. Res: Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Rob Simmons, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Nic White, Anthony Faingaa.

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