The Beale at Fullback Experiment - Green and Gold Rugby

The Beale at Fullback Experiment

The Beale at Fullback Experiment

In their game against the Reds on Saturday, the Waratahs played Kurtley Beale at fullback for the first time since 2014. The only time Beale has played at fullback since then was during 4 tests in the Wallabies’ 2017 spring tour when Israel Folau took a break from rugby. Beale has mostly been played at inside centre by both Daryl Gibson and Michael Cheika, who have tried to maintain a consistent 10-12 playmaking combination with Bernard Foley.

The issue is that running a playmaker in the 12 jersey is old-fashioned. It reeks of Australian rugby traditionalism. No other tier 1 nation runs a second playmaker at inside centre, and if a second playmaker is utilised at all they usually inject themselves from fullback. Beauden Barrett (when Richie Mo’unga comes on at flyhalf) and Willie le Roux did this for New Zealand and South Africa last year, but most nations prefer a single playmaker. Instead, a crash ball runner is usually played in the 12 jersey such as Bundee Aki (Ireland), Ngani Laumape or Sonny Bill Williams (NZ), and Ben Te’o (England).

Bernard Foley makes a crucial save late in the game, recovering a Sonny Bill Williams grubber

Sonny Bill-Williams, for the All Blacks, relying on bulk more than play-making skill

Probably the main reason the Wallabies and Waratahs persist in running Beale at 12 is that Foley hasn’t been up to the standards of a world-class playmaker. During the 2017 spring tour when Beale was at fullback, Foley struggled with the sole playmaking duties. He continues to be played there due to of a lack of alternatives (at least as perceived by the Wallabies selectors). This year may be different due to the return of Quade Cooper and Matt Toomua to Super Rugby.

As a result of these factors, playing Beale at fullback is a very important experiment. Nowhere on the rugby pitch is there more space than at fullback, and it frees up the 12 jersey for a crash ball runner. The Waratahs utilised Karmichael Hunt in this role on Saturday. At the national level, Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani both spend a lot of time wearing 12 for their Super Rugby teams even though Cheika prefers them at outside centre.

So how did Beale fare at fullback this weekend?

For this assessment, I will use 5 criteria which are based on the primary duties of a fullback:

  • To provide cover for opposition kicks (positionally and by being secure under the high ball);
  • To return opposition kicks in kind;
  • To return opposition kicks with counter-attacking runs;
  • To provide defensive cover against linebreaks; and
  • To inject themselves into the attack at crucial moments.

4 minutes into the match (below) Beale covers the last point and injects himself into the attack by running a good angle inside Hunt, who smartly feeds him the ball. Beale is taken just short of the line and has to reach out, causing him to lose the ball.

Beale article Image 1

The problem here is that the roles are the wrong way around: Hunt should be crashing onto the inside ball fed to him by Beale. It’s likely that a larger player with more experience finishing like Hunt would have scored this try.

This issue is the same at fullback as at inside centre: Beale is smaller than other Australian options such as Hunt, Folau, Tom Banks, and Dane Haylett-Petty. While he has bulked up in recent years, even the 2 foreign playmaker fullbacks I mentioned above are taller than Beale. Sadly, Beale’s ability to effectively inject himself into the attack and to counter-attack from fullback is curtailed by his size.

To make up for this, Beale would have to be incredibly potent at playmaking from fullback. In the 6th minute, however, Beale slots into the line at first receiver, with Foley at the inside centre position (below). Folau can be found further down the line inside the man on the wing (Hunt, who is actually the inside centre) as if he were playing fullback.

Beale article Image 2

This tells us that Beale’s positional change is not a strong mandate, and is in line with the “fluid” positional plays of the Waratahs and Wallabies. He does this more often than not throughout the game and it prevents us from discerning what he would truly be like playing a proper fullback’s role in 2019.

Beale shows good fullback positional awareness and mobility in the 11th minute (below) to be far enough back to cover a potential kick while still being able to support Folau when he nabs an intercept. If the intercept were not taken, Beale would have been in the defensive line quickly enough to cover the winger and prevent an overlap. Beale cements this observation by repeating this effort in the 46th minute.

Beale article Image 3

The Reds score their second try after creating the overlap pictured below. Curtis Rona is forced to defend against Isaac Lucas, Kerevi, and Chris Feauai-Sautia. The play begins more than 40 metres out from the Waratahs tryline, and the best option is to concede some ground while trying to force the Reds to the sideline by not committing too hard to the tackle.

Beale article Image 4

Rona understands this and gets Lucas to make the pass to Kerevi while trying to keep himself in the contest. Beale immediately views the situation as a 2 on 1 with himself against Kerevi and Feauai-Sautia. He comes to an almost complete stop and commits himself to Kerevi, who puts Feauai-Sautia in unopposed (below).

Beale article Image 5

This may be a bit harsh, but in my view a more experienced fullback would not commit themselves so early. By running sideways/backwards and conceding some metres, Beale could have potentially provided time for the cover defence to make the tackle. The Reds pull this off against Beale in a later example. Rona was also jostling with Kerevi who may have needed to make the pass even without Beale’s intervention, or with a non-committal intervention.

The reason this is a harsh call is because Kerevi is such a physical player that it is difficult to bring him down without fully committing to the tackle and because he knows how to run straight rather than allowing himself to be forced to the sideline too easily. However, it draws attention to Beale’s known defensive frailties. At inside centre last year Beale had only a 66% tackle success rate compared with Folau (79%), Haylett-Petty (88%), and Banks (69%).

Another example occurs in the 65th minute (below). The Reds have created a massive overlap and Beale comes up from fullback to close it.

Beale article Image 6

Bryce Hegarty sees that there is no one behind the Waratahs defensive line and puts the grubber through for Sefa Naivalu (below).

Beale article Image 7

Beale does not have the speed of a typical back 3 player and is easily outpaced for the Reds’ third try (below).

Beale article Image 8

In the opening play of the second half, Beale takes a return kick and draws two Reds defenders before making the pass to Rona. Rona runs 40 metres and scores. While Beale did well here, this try is more a result of the inept Reds defence and Rona’s speed than any special counter-attacking skills.

I previously discussed a lost opportunity where Folau ran sideways and then threw an inside ball to Jack Dempsey against the Sunwolves rather than simply running straight, drawing the man, and then making the pass on the outside to the unmarked Curtis Rona. A similar situation occurs in the 68th minute of this game.

In the below image, Beale receives the ball (in the 12 position) about 17 metres from the sideline. There is a clear 4 on 3 overlap in the 20 metres of space from the sideline channel. Beale simply needs to straighten and draw Hegarty (10) to put Hunt (12) and Michael Hooper (7) away on the outside with only Feauai-Sautia to mark them. Folau (14) should draw Higginbotham (8), and if Higginbotham commits to Beale then he can put Folau away on the inside.

Beale article Image 9

Unfortunately, Beale runs about 10 metres sideways and the Reds intelligently concede some territory to allow their sliding defence to catch up (below). The opportunity is lost. Beale throws the inside ball to Folau but he is now marked by Caleb Timu (19).

Beale article Image 10

The result of this experiment is inconclusive leaning towards negative. Beale is no longer fast enough to operate in the back 3, and though he has bulked up in the last few years to mitigate this he is still smaller than other Australian and international fullbacks. We never get an opportunity to see him under the high ball, although his kicking game is a notable strength.

Coupled with one of the lowest tackle success rates in first-class rugby and a tendency to run sideways (not a good counter-attacking feature), what evidence there is seems to indicate that the Wallabies would be better served by playing a specialist fullback instead. This would see Beale relegated to the bench or the NRC, or more likely continuing to play at 12 where his combination with Foley can continue to do damage – even if this style is outdated.

  • Gun

    Why can’t professional coaching staff see this? Gilbert caught everything last weekend but his record during his time at FB wasn’t good.

  • Anonymous bloke

    One correction, Kuridrani doesn’t play 12.

    Otherwise, it was curious that on the Rugby Ruckus Matt Burke/Turunui were commenting that Beale’s crabbing is him looking for players running unders/lines off the hip, and compared it to Campese. In the example above he seems to encroach on his options rather than creating opportunities.

    • Cameron Rivett

      You are correct, my wording in that sentence was poor and based on a vague memory of Kuridrani swapping there at some point without me verifying it.

    • Huw Tindall

      Competition for 12 right now is coming from Meakes, Hunt and Kerevi (although with Petaia out he’ll probably play the rest of the season at 13). Simone at 12 for the Brums has been a bit meh. I don’t think Toomua will be back in time to really press his case (earliest he can play is round 15 of 18!).

      I’d be happy with any of Meakes, Hunt or Kerevi on current form. All offer slightly different things at 12. I think Hunt could be the best all round candidate for 12 by the end of the season. Defense, crash ball, kicking, distribution, work over the ball, defensive organiser and backline communicator – he is pretty good at it all. Long way to go yet however!

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Almost Garuntee Meakes will offer no impact if chosen alongside Foley! Hunt and Kerevi can carry themselves tho…. THAT should say alot!

    • Brisneyland Local

      Yeah I listened to that. I thought they were being overly generous to Beale and Foley the whole way through out that podcast. Those boys still wear their blue shirts for sure.

      • Ed

        I thought of you when they talked about Gilbert and Spanners.
        Again, they talked about a backline that is completely based on attack, but ignore the defensive side. I find this surprising from Burke as the 1999 RWC starting backline was not too shabby in either attack or defence.
        1999: Gregan, Larkham, Roff, Horan, Herbert, Tune, Burke.
        2018: (most favoured by Cheika) Genia, Foley, Koroibete, Beale, Kerevi, DHP, Folau.

        One thing is clear is that while the 2018 backline has better athletes overall, the 1999 team smashes them as footballers.

        • Who?

          What was the 1999 motto? “Keep ‘em nude”. Don’t let them score. Says it all…

  • Mica

    Is her really that small compared to other full backs?
    Seems to be similar in height and weight to Leigh Halfpenny, Mike Brown, Elliot Daly, Maxime Medard, Stuart Hogg, Willie Le Roux.
    Surprisingly he is similar in weight to Jordie Barrett and Rob Kearney although he is a bit shorter.
    Also even though his tackle completion stats are low, I think that he should really be compared against other 12s rather than 15s.
    Maybe compare against 2018 Samu Kerevi, Kyle Godwin, Billy Meakes, Duncan P, Rhys Hodge. Just don’t do Ryan Crotty cause he will be close to 90% :)

    • Cameron Rivett

      I always take the weight listings with a grain of salt. In any case, he’s not that much smaller than some other international fullbacks but Wallabies selectors only get to choose from Australian options, who are almost universally faster and larger than Beale. I compared Beale’s tackle completion stats against other 12s in my previous article about Billy Meakes, and he is still among the worst around. Even noted poor defender Samu Kerevi had a 74% tackle success rate for the Reds in 2018. 66% is just astonishingly low, and so far this year Beale is actually at 60% (6 from 10).

      • Mike

        You forgot to add Mackenzie . He is suitable comparison and ball player.

        • Who?

          Agree on McKenzie.
          This may get modded, because your reply to me above has disappeared (it wasn’t me!), but I figure at least you’ll get an email with my reply to your post, which at least gives further clarification of my position.
          The school I referenced also has TWO former Wallabies heading up their Rugby program, one is an old boy, one isn’t. That’s good for the Open Firsts, it doesn’t mean that even the U15’s A’s get decent coaching. In fact, being an international player doesn’t mean you’re any good as a coach at all! Coaching is a very different skillset.
          I don’t criticise parents for anything to do with their kids. I don’t even criticise those involved in the US College fraud. Parents will always do anything they can for their kids. What I criticise is RA for allowing outside bodies to control their primary development pipeline.
          You can disagree their kids to these schools for rep honours and rugby. I could name three families from the age group I coached who sent their kids to GPS schools PURELY for Rugby. There was another kid whose dad wanted to send him to a GPS school (purely for Rugby) but the kid said no (he preferred his non-Rugby private school), and another 4 who went for various other reasons (partially Rugby, partially family pressure, and a bit of course wanting to have a decent education, though that part is debatable – the contacts are probably more important than the difference in educational quality).
          I don’t contradict myself by referencing soccer. Qld GPS, I’m not sure that it’s compulsory to play sport, they have nowhere near the depth of Rugby teams you’re describing. Qld GPS, it was a clear effort to broaden the enrolment base. Because, as you say, not everyone wants to play Rugby (though many old boys want that for their kids). What you – and RA – need to realize is that being the guardians of the game isn’t a high priority for the schools. Their priority is to ensure they survive and thrive.
          In terms of Kiwi schools, we can’t afford to dream of emulating them. They’re less elitist, in that going to a Rugby school isn’t proof that you’ve got cash. Because every school plays Rugby. So it’s more like the League situation in NSW and Qld (though more NSW than Qld). Because you still get kids being poached by schools in their system. But in Rugby, to play school Rugby, you’re paying five figures to start. Yet we still seem to think that going to a ‘Rugby’ school… That’s the way to get noticed. That’s wrong. Rep coaches should come from club land, and players should be selected from club land. With no knowledge or concern for where the players are educated. Schools should be a bonus, not a primary pathway. The current focus is perverse, back to front, and it’s so far reversed that the only way to break the negative cycle is to go completely rogue and smash the cycle.

        • Cameron Rivett

          Damian McKenzie is a bit of an outlier. His entire gimmick is his size. He’s highly controversial in NZ due to it, and it’s seen that he has difficulty completing tackles because of it. However, even McKenzie has a better tackle completion rate than Beale, 74% last year and up to 82% this year. These days, he doesn’t even play fullback at Super Rugby anyway.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Blows me away Kerri gets plastered as a poor defender. ….yet Foley has had worse stats than Kerevi for 3years now!

    • Halfpenny and Brown are both pretty much ex-international fullbacks now. I imagine Halfpenny will go to Japan as cover in case Williams (Liam in this case) is injured, Brown might well not make the trip, unless there are a raft of injuries. Medard seems to be on the way out too but might make the trip to Japan.


      D McKenzie…….. the current most dangerous FB in the world the last 2years! Sucks at 10 tho……

  • Mart

    When’s Toomua due to show up?

    • Huw Tindall

      English Premiership season ends 18th May for last round of games. That’s round 14 (of 18) in Super Rugby so at best Toomua is back for 4 games then finals if the Rebels make it. Unless Meakes form dips or he picks up an injury I really don’t see a lot of sense in rushing him back into the Rebels side. Even for Wallabies consideration Toomua could struggle if Kerevi and KHunt keeping showing up.

    • Ed

      Leicester’s last match is 19th May as they won’t qualify for the semi-finals. You’d think he would have to be a part of the rested players policy.

  • Who?

    So… Beale’s not good enough to play 15 anymore. And he’s not good enough to play 12. And this is in a Super team. What odds he’s still the starting 12 for the Wallabies..?

    • Cameron Rivett

      If Foley is 10, then it’s difficult to say that Beale shouldn’t be 12 because Foley simply isn’t capable of being the sole playmaker for the Wallabies. Certainly though, if we had a world-class playmaker at 10 then Beale would probably get the boot especially since he misses more than 1/3 of his tackles.

      The said thing is that I’m actually a huge Beale fan. I used to go to his ARC games and get his signature (back when RA shortsightedly canned that competition) more than a decade ago, and when he returned from Europe I was very happy to see that he was in some of the best form of his life. I just don’t think he’s managed to find that groove again in the past year.

      • Who?

        I think that Beale’s been misused since Cheika put him at 12. He could’ve stayed at 15, worked on his one on one defence, worked on his high ball efforts (that chip and chase against Wales in 2010 remains one of the greatest solo plays ever, and the greatest bombed individual try).
        I’d love to see Gibson commit to using him at 15 for the remainder of the season, focus on speed work (because he’s still one of the quickest in the Wallabies – he’s definitely quicker than DHP, he’s quicker than Folau, he’s only behind guys like Koroibete, Naivalu and Banks, and he may be able to close that gap), and let him rediscover his groove at 15.
        I don’t see that he couldn’t have played that second playmaker role from 15 for the past 5 years. Even with Foley at 10 (which is something people always fail to consider when they discuss Link’s record – that through TRC 2014, when we couldn’t win, we were doing it with Foley at 10, and a Foley who wasn’t the player he is today (I do think he’s improved since then, just not as much as we wanted him to do)), he could’ve been injecting himself at 15. That might’ve pushed Foley to develop his game, to assume more responsibility and take more authority, rather than just deferring every time Kurtley demands the ball.
        But it’s a horrible thing that we’re now in a situation that one of our best players is split between two roles and he’s presently not suited to filling either of them. :-(

        • Cameron Rivett

          I agree that he should have stayed at 15 and worked to become a truly great fullback. I’m not so sure that Beale is faster than Folau anymore, and sadly I don’t think it’s likely that Beale will regain his speed. Not many 30 year old rugby players do, and I think it was definitely a conscious decision by him to bulk up as he’s gotten older. Drew Mitchell did the same thing when he reached his late 20s and extended the life of his career by another few years.

          The other reason I think Beale was put at 12 is because there is way more depth at 15 in Australian than at 12. Part of Cheika’s philosophy to put the best players on the field rather than the best players for each position.

          In the 2015 RWC, Beauden Barrett and Dan Carter were both available but Hansen never played them at the same time. I think if Cheika had been coach of the ABs, Barrett would have been at 15 with Carter at 10. I wonder what would have happened if Beale grew up in NZ instead. I highly doubt he would have been shuffled between roles so much, no matter how much competition there was for a particular position.

        • Who?

          I think you’re right that Cheika was a reason why Beale moved to 12. Cheika and the ARU (pre-name change). Because Folau came along, and they decided he should be 15. The current situation in terms of depth is kind of irrelevant when it comes to what should’ve happened in 2013/14. If he’d been locked into 15 in 2014/15, that would’ve been that. He’d still likely be our first choice 15. Especially given Cheika’s personal loyalty to KB (proven in 2014 by flying him to the UK, then in 2016 by dragging him home). In fact, we could argue it’s Deans’ fault, too, given that he played Beale at 10 for the EOYT in 2012, which meant he was no longer settled in that 15 role.
          You’re probably right that Kurtley wouldn’t regain his peak speed, but he could certainly work on getting back some of that speed. In terms of bulking up, I do wonder if that’s not just the end result of many years of training? Because it’s common (not just a Drew thing). But bulking up doesn’t prevent one from working on speed.
          In 2015, Beaudy didn’t play 15 primarily because Shag already had Dagg and Bin Smuth. There wasn’t a need to race him into the starting team. It’s reasonably well documented that Shag thought that Beaudy was a natural 15, not a 10, and most of his early games were subbing on at 15. Even today, as you’ve noted, if Mo’unga is the replacement, Beaudy moves to 15. He often defends at 15. I’ve been a fan of Beaudy for years, and was keen to see him play 10, but I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s like Foley and Beale – best used at 15. A great all round rugby player, but not a natural, traditional 10, working with a kick/pass/run (NH) or pass/kick/run (Australian) mentality that you require at 10. All are best when they’re running the ball, which isn’t the natural role of a 10 (i.e. to be primarily a ball carrier)
          If KB had been in NZ, I think he’d have been shuffled, but they’d likely have better identified his best position and mostly kept him there. They’d have ensured he had a rounded development. Our coaching is sorely lacking, and I keep on hearing from mates with kids in $$,$$$ private ‘Rugby’ schools that the coaching his representative-grade son receives at school and even rep level is far below the level he receives from his coach at the club.

        • Cameron Rivett

          I agree with everything you’ve said. I think the best thing RA can do right now is hire a bunch of kiwi coaches to come in and reform our coaching and development system all the way down to grassroots. The only issue is that our traditional rivalry with the kiwis makes it a bit galling to consider, but they’re clearly the best in the world at it. RA definitely needs to intervene in the private school competitions, they are still stuck in the amateur era and are losing kids fast to other codes.

        • Who?

          I think we need some really clear coaching manuals, and directives. Too few coaches in Australia seem to have a clue how to identify a player’s natural instincts and how they best fit into a position.
          In terms of the private school comps, we need to cut them loose. I don’t care that they’re the history of the game. They’re not the future. We’re losing kids who went through there, and we pay no attention to club land. Meanwhile, these schools, the ‘bastions of the game’, they’re completely unaccountable to RA, completely outside RA’s control. What game thinks it’s a good idea to outsource its development – especially when they’ve got their own existing pathway, which they neglect?! So forget the schools, they’re only interested in enrolments and survival. Focus on club land. Don’t pick players for representative honours unless they’ve met finals requirements for their club. Don’t pick rep coaches from those schools (because they only pick their own school players). Take control of your own destiny rather than leaving it in the hands of organisations with higher priorities.

        • Cameron Rivett

          I disagree strongly. I think the private school competitions need reforming, not abandonment. They need to join in partnership with RA, not become a separate entity. By the time a player is 18 they have already missed out on crucial development years. The Kiwi school system is essentially professional for the last couple of years of school, the private schools need to emulate that better.

          I definitely agree that people should still have to go through the club pathway though, no school to Super Rugby crap. I’ve been considering the benefits of a rule mandating a minimum 3 years at a club side before becoming eligible for Super Rugby/Wallabies duties. The only issue is that forcing a professional rugby player to work full-time at a non-rugby job and essentially play rugby as a hobby for 3 years may not be the best thing for player development.

        • Who?

          The Kiwi school system isn’t near as elitist. As it stands, League clubs are giving kids scholarships to GPS schools, recognising there’s good physical training (if not tactical training, which is what my mate – whose son is in the A’s – complains about). But if you’ve a child who’s not quite rep level, there’s no scholarship, so your only option is to send your kids to these schools in order to get rep selection. This isn’t a personal gripe – my son’s ‘retired’, he wasn’t a rep player, I’ve got no dog in the fight. But I did coach kids whose parents chose to send their kids to these schools purely for rugby purposes. Five figures a year for rugby. And it worked, too (those parents all ended up with their kids going from ignored players to first XV rep players in 12 months, with no notable improvement when watching them at club level).
          The schools are already a completely separate entity. The headmasters have no concern for specific sports, beyond the prestige those sports can provide the schools. I remember the howling from old boys (many of whom were current parents) when the Qld GPS scaled back Rugby from Term 2 and 3 to solely Term 3 (with a much more intensive schedule) in order to fit soccer into Term 2. But it opened up new enrolments, so the headmasters had absolutely no concern.
          When I say club pathway, I’m talking about U15’s, U16’s, U17’s, U18’s. Far too often, teenage rep teams are picked out of schools, with no reward for those who keep the club scene going. Schools are notorious for pulling their players from the club comps (with disastrous results for club competitions, where teams might go from 20 players to 13, cop an injury, and fall out of the comp). I would argue that there’s currently very, very little value for RA and RA-affiliated organizations to the existence of the ASRU and the private school competitions.

        • Mike

          Are you referring to the QLD GPS schools ? The situation of school sport is much more complicated than private schools running an organised competition. Some of the best kids are getting offered scholarships to private schools but at the sametime the schools are discovering kids as they get into the 16’s and opens. Just because you played in the B team in the U10s doesn’t mean you cant hit your straps later and vice versa for talented 10 year olds, I have a kid at a sydney GPS (who was at an ISA school) but changed for the for the last 2 years of his schooling, the level of competition went up again. Don’t get me wrong the ISA school could beat all the GPS AND CAS schools, but the level of competition goes up due to the number of kids involved. Its COMPULSORY to play sport at GPS. In the opens they have 8 teams. they are pretty good numbers, Not sure about your point in regards the standard of coaching one school has two ex international players. TWO not one. They are probably throwing about $500,000 at them. RA cant afford to do that. Yes I have heard of a school where League are helping to support families with kids they have identified as potential stars of their game, there is nothing wrong with that. What parent wouldn’t take that opportunity.I disagree that people are deliberately sending kids to GPS schools to get rep selection, What a massive gamble ! Its over $35k per year, so that’s a $200 k plus gamble. I also coach kids and am still involved in the U14s with my middle child at club level. In sydney the cost of living prohibits the gamble of your son possibly making a rep team by sending him to a private school – its absurd. But if you’ve got the $$$ he is going to go there anyway. You contractic yourself with the soccer reference,obviously the headmaster can see the writing on the wall for rugby and soccer – why wouldn’t you try to create more opportunities for kids. Remember it is compulsory to play a sport at a GPS school and some parents are not fond of Rugby. Is this the schools problem? NO? Rugby Australia ? NO. On your last point you have kids playing both rugby at school on a saturday and league (SG Ball or Harold Matts) if good enough. At the end of the day these kids are keeping their options open. As i said earlier its a bit more complicated than pointing at the Private schools and accusing them of destroying the system. If you want to improve the pathways then you need to build something that is compelling.BTW the kiwi schools do the same poaching as the GPS schools do. Read the article

        • GO THE Q REDS

          How about 2years restriction but allowance to join wallaby camps, tour and other things besides full-on international lvl rugby game time…. .Kinda how Tongan Thor was handled I suppose…

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Of course he will be. Cheika loves him

  • adastra32

    If I recall, Beale spent a number of games at 15 playing for Wasps while in Europe.

    • He did as I remember too. But playing for Wasps with a good pack and a very attacking line that was littered with a mix of playmakers that understood the plan and how to improvise off each other is a bit different to test rugby.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        NZ backs play like that mate

        • Brisneyland Local

          I think Eloise meant “Australian Test Rugby!”

        • I’m not entirely sure they do – I think they run brilliant support lines rather than improvise off each other, which is not quite the same thing. Barrett improvises, the rest support him, but the others are more of less predictable in what they’re going to do, they just do it very fast and very, very well.

          Cipriani, Gopperth, Le Roux, Beale and I’ve forgotten their wingers, at club level, they could just all create, just go and have fun and improvise off each other. They were fast enough and creative enough that any one of them could spark something and it was never predictable.

          Imagine having a side full of Cooper’s… but somehow inspired to tackle for each other. When it clicked it was awesome to watch.

  • MungBean

    Beale at 15 for the Wara…ahem…Wallabies then.

  • Nutta

    Good article. Thoughtful and pretty objective. Particularly as a lifer Fronty I find any insight into what the Fairies do – or are supposed to do – interesting.

    That said, the sample size is small at one game after a significant hiatus (why do I have ‘One swallow…’ stuck in my head?). It would be great to see the same sort of chat after he has 4-5 games in a row to settle in. But that’s a pipe-dream I guess.

    • Cameron Rivett

      This was my thought too, but he’s back at 12 this weekend sadly. I just generally think he’s out of form, I haven’t been impressed with him at 12 recently. Will have to reserve final judgment until the end of Super Rugby.


Somehow still a Wallabies fan. Enjoys brainstorming ideas on how to fix Australian rugby. Waratahs/North Sydney/Country Eagles supporter. Ex-Kiwi with just a touch of love left for the Highlanders and Otago.

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