Wallabies could welcome back bad boy Beale for second Test
What a difference a win makes … centre Pat McCabe storms through to score against Six Nations champions Wales in Brisbane. The second Test of the three-game series takes place in Melbourne on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
ROBBIE DEANS, who admitted he had just endured the most challenging week of his coaching career, has not given up hope of his errant No.10 Kurtley Beale being available for the Second Test against Wales in Melbourne on Saturday night.
And Deans will call in Brumbies and Springboks World Cup-winning coach Jake White this week to observe training.
The Wallabies coach, whose position was under serious threat after Australia were downed by Scotland in Newcastle last Tuesday night, was more buoyant yesterday after his team rallied to defeat the Six Nations grand slam champions in the opening international of three in Brisbane.
The past week has been tricky for Deans, having to prepare a Test team twice in five days in two different cities. When asked yesterday if this had been one of the most challenging weeks of his coaching career, Deans replied: ''The … [most challenging].''
Was this because of the demands, or the personal pressure?
''Just the demands. Personal pressure is identical week to week. It never varies,'' he said.
While Deans will reward the team that won at Suncorp Stadium by picking virtually the same contingent for Melbourne, there is a chance Beale could move to the bench. The only possible change in the starting XV is tight-head prop Dan Palmer moving in for Sekope Kepu, who has a strained forearm.
Whether Beale is available will be determined by two factors - if he can convince the selectors he has overcome his shoulder complaint and whether he will have to front an Australian Rugby Union code of conduct disciplinary hearing this week.
The ARU is investigating an incident involving Beale and Quade Cooper at Brisbane's Victory Hotel in the early hours of Friday morning where police were called. It was last night awaiting a report from Queensland Police, who attended the scene. No charges were laid.
However, on the rugby side, Deans believes Beale is close to a return.
''He's rehabbing hard and there is a chance he may be available,'' he said.
''But don't get too excited by it, because he hasn't received the green light. Talking to Kurtley, he's feeling good. The discomfort has gone and the critical issue now is strength. The medical staff will want him to be back to full strength, before he re-enters.''
One should not expect Beale to go straight back in at the expense of Berrick Barnes. Deans showed faith in Barnes after a lacklustre performance against Scotland and recent struggles with the Waratahs. Admittedly, he did not have too many other options as James O'Connor, Cooper and Beale were all unavailable through injury, but Barnes rewarded his coach with a high-quality performance.
On a dry track, Barnes was far more composed, combining well with man of the match Will Genia. Barnes also showed he can actually kick field goals.
''I have no doubt he would have enjoyed that, because he's a bloke who has taken a lot of heat, and scrutiny,'' Deans said. ''But … he's a tough kid. He kept coming on, and kept offering. He didn't back off. It's a great sign. And we will reward the group that accepted the challenge.''
That means a consistent Test line-up for a change - a luxury for Deans after he had to revamp his team for Scotland and then Wales.
While Wales head to Canberra for tomorrow night's match against the Brumbies, Deans is adamant the tourists will improve in Melbourne.
After the Brumbies match, their coach, White, will travel to Melbourne and attend an Australian training session. In recent weeks, he has provided assistance to Deans.