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Wallabies utility back Kurtley Beale has revealed that he is keen to settle in the inside centre position when he returns to Test action.
Beale returned to Australia after spending a season with Premiership runners-up Wasps and made it clear that he wants to be part of the Wallabies’ starting line-up after he was used mostly as an impact player off the replacements bench when he last played for his country in 2015.
“I think just having the opportunity to be involved in the 23 would be awesome,” Beale said at the launch of the Wallabies Indigenous jersey on Monday. All Blacks vs Wallabies
“But I’ll definitely be putting my foot forward for that No 12 jersey.
“Like I said earlier there’s some young talent coming through: Reece Hodge has been amazing in filling that spot (and) recently Karmichael Hunt has put up his hand.
“I think that’s a really healthy competition and it’s definitely helped me get focused (ahead of the Rugby Championship).”
The Wallabies face the All Blacks in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney on August 19. Beale missed Wasps’ Premiership defeat to Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham in May due to a hamstring injury which he is still recovering from.
The 28-year-old believes his stint in the Premiership has made him a better player.
“I feel so (the year away has improved my game),” said Beale. All Blacks vs Wallabies Live
“I still feel like I’ve got to get my knee, my leg (right) because I’ve lost a lot of muscle in that leg.
“It’s a bit of a slow process getting that muscle back, but I learnt a lot about playing in certain conditions.
“The European rugby is exposed to all four seasons, that’s for sure.
“I feel like I’ve definitely grown with my knowledge of the game.
“I learnt a lot off the coaching up there.
“I learnt a lot off the guys next to me, picking their brains and how to play the game.
“Obviously the kicking game is very important at Test level and certainly I was very much involved in growing that part of my game up in Europe.”
For those anticipating the All Blacks’ apparent decline becoming a permanent state of affairs, they might best heed these words from coach Steve Hansen on the Lions series stalemate: “We’ll come out of it a lot stronger. Whilst it wasn’t the result we all wanted, it may well have been what we all needed.”
Needed? Are you listening, Australia? You too, South Africa? Any hint of satisfaction from the New Zealanders’ principal Rugby Championship rivals on the back of a Lions series in which the All Blacks managed to win just one Test should surely be tempered by Hansen’s words. The bear hasn’t just been poked, it has been stirred.
Remember, this is a coach who, even on the back of a match-up being labelled here, there and everywhere a failure, has lost just five of the 72Tests his All Blacks have played in the near six seasons he has been in charge. It’s a tough audience he plays for.
He caught the British and Irish Lions about as strong as they’ve been, maybe since 1971, maybe ever; had a horrible run with injuries; got the rough end of the officiating pineapple; and still ended up sharing the honours. Glass half-empty? Or half-full? All Blacks vs Wallabies Live Stream
There are things we can do better,” he says. “The big thing is we’ve faced something we don’t face very often. We had to work our way through dealing with line speed. Andy Farrell’s defence was very good – a full press right across the park.”
The All Blacks weren’t all bad against the Lions. Their scrum was outstanding and continues to be a major weapon. The breakdown work was mostly positive. The lineout had a miscue or two. Their attack was largely blunted, though they still finished three crisp tries in the opening Test, and should have at least doubled the two five-pointers they converted in the third, but for some inexplicable handling lapses.
The coach sees no hangover with Sonny Bill Williams post-suspension either. “A lot of people love him or hate him, but every time he plays for us he gets better and better,” Hansen says. “The last World Cup he was outstanding. The first Test he played really well, and we didn’t see enough of him in the second to make any judgment. He’s learnt a harsh lesson about having to use his arms.”
Nothing is really broken with the All Blacks. They have just been reminded they can do better.
“To lose one, and draw the next, that’s painful. But we’ll come out of it stronger,” Hansen says. “There’s always going to be a roadbump or two in any team’s lifespan. In 2007 we had a major one. The Lions series isn’t an ’07 roadbump, but it’s a big enough one to challenge us to get better at some areas of our game. We’ll do that.” All Blacks vs Wallabies