ARU backs Beale to play in spite of charges
The best thing Australian rugby officials can do for wayward star Kurtley Beale is let him play tomorrow night, according to ARU chief John O'Neill.
Beale is accused of assaulting a security guard at the Victory Hotel ahead of the first Test against Wales in Brisbane two weeks ago.
The ARU has chosen not to discipline the 23-year-old until the matter is resolved in the Queensland courts and this week selected him at fullback in the final Test in Sydney.
O'Neill said it was important not to pre-judge the outcome of the case and that Beale, who has been involved in a number of off-field incidents in the past two years, was better off training and playing than not.
''[There are] a lot of lessons to be learnt and are we concerned about that incident, of course we are, but I think it's better for all parties if Kurtley plays rugby,'' O'Neill said.
''In terms of helping him and any issues he may have, with the ability that he has, and the care and attention that he's receiving from [Wallabies coach] Robbie Deans and the coaching staff, the best thing for that young man is to play the game.''
Beale is understood to have been jolted by the assault charge and has thrown himself into training with the Wallabies squad this week.
He has an extensive and tight-knit support network in Sydney, which includes his family and a number of people he has been involved with since his school years.
Those close to him were worried initially about his move to Melbourne to join the Rebels late last year. But Beale has largely stayed out of the public eye, apart from one widely-publicised car crash involving former teammate Danny Cipriani and injured Reds five-eighth Quade Cooper.
Hampered by a hamstring injury for much of the season, Beale has proved indispensable to the Rebels after moving to five-eighth following James O'Connor's injury late in the season.
In other Wallabies news, Nathan Sharpe has promised no John Farnham-style retirement flip-flops, vowing a last-ditch attempt to win back the Bledisloe Cup in Brisbane in October will be his last game. ''This is it,'' Sharpe said.
''There'll be no more John Farnhams after this.''
Sharpe is the only remaining Wallabies squad member from the Australian side to last win the Bledisloe in 2002.
Australia's most capped second-rower said he took the weekend to think about Deans's request that he play on through the Rugby Championship but in the end was happy to have another crack at the world champion All Blacks.
''The [Rugby Championship fixtures] are big games and it would be great to have another opportunity to win the Bledisloe back,'' he said. ''I was involved in that [Cup-winning] game in 2002 and it would be a great way to finish.''
Sharpe said he was most concerned about his two sons' reactions to news he was delaying his move back to Brisbane.
''I'll see my kids on Sunday and that will be the hardest chat I think, I haven't seen them for a couple of weeks so they were sort of counting down the days,'' he said.
''I think they thought there was four games left to go, it might be 11 now so I'll have that chat with them and hopefully they'll go easy on their old man.''
The 34-year-old said he had not penned a farewell speech for what he thought was his last Test in Sydney on Saturday. But he did have to douse plans for a celebration after his final run with the Force in Christchurch next month.
''[I] had to rejig a few timelines there and a few of my mates that were looking forward to celebrating with me have had to push that back a little bit as well,'' he said.
- Sydney Morning Herald