Beale, O'Connor cleared after their late night out

GEORGINA ROBINSON
Last updated 06:41 27/06/2013
Kurtley Beale
Getty Images
CLEARED: Wallabies James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale have been cleared by team management after being out until 4am.

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Wallabies James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale have been cleared by team management after being out until 4am on Wednesday.

The pair were photographed with a British and Irish Lions fan in the early hours at a Melbourne Hungry Jack's.

The photograph, which appeared on London's Daily Mail website on Wednesday, shows the pair posing with a Lions supporter in a fast-food outlet in a Melbourne suburb four days before the Wallabies' must-win second Test at Etihad Stadium.

Fairfax Media understands O'Connor and Beale were among a small group of Rebels and Lions players who had been out at a Melbourne pub after attending the Rebels-Lions match.

A Wallabies spokesman told the Daily Mail the pair were not consuming alcohol. ''There has been a full and thorough investigation of the information. The two players were out last night, but they were not drinking - 10 witnesses we have spoken to corroborated that,'' the spokesman said.

''The players went to the Rebels v Lions game with their teammates and after the game they went back to a function at a club, with other Rebels guys. Lions players were there as well. After leaving, they stopped off to pick up some food on the way home and had pictures taken with some fans.

''Both players are adamant that they didn't drink and we have checked that out thoroughly. James O'Connor was driving. They have not broken any team protocols. Today is a day off for the squad and there were no commitments until late afternoon.''

At a news conference on Tuesday morning, O'Connor said he was jumping out of his skin about the opportunity to hit back against the Lions after the Wallabies' 23-21 loss in Brisbane last weekend.

''I'm taking this game as the biggest one of my life,'' he said.

''Brisbane was huge, it's an atmosphere I haven't experienced before. I've experienced over in Europe how passionate the crowd is and definitely saw it in the World Cup but that was another level up. I remember running out on the field and I got goosebumps and chills. This game is do or die. We will be up for it. This is our game.''

Beale has only just returned to Test rugby after spending two weeks in a rehabilitation clinic. Beale's teammates remain confident that he is one of the team's go-to men in clutch situations, teammate Ben Mowen said on Wednesday.

Beale missed two kicks in the final stages of the loss, the second moments before full time, when he slipped as he struck the ball.

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Beale, who started on the bench, took on the duty after first-choice kicker Christian Lealiifano was knocked out in the first minute and James O'Connor's boot proved off-target.

While Lealiifano reclaims the kicking duties if he plays in Saturday's second Test, Mowen said Beale's reputation had not been tarnished.

''He was unlucky with the last kick, but if you're in the same situation again you'll definitely throw him the ball because he's a proven performer,'' Mowen said. ''I think Kurtley's a very strong bloke and people don't give him enough credit.

''He's bounced right back. He's been a big performer for us in the last couple of days at training. I've known Kurtley for about four or five years and I think over the last six or seven months he's just really changed as a bloke. He's ... matured a lot.''

Mowen said Beale had previously shown he was capable of handling high-pressure situations with the penalty goal on full time against South Africa in Bloemfontein in 2010 that gave the Wallabies their first win on the high veldt in 47years.

He also said Beale had impressed since his return to the fold.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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