Beale hopes Cooper returns to Wallabies

JIM MORTON
Last updated 19:12 15/10/2012
Kurtley Beale
Reuters
AT HOME: Kurtley Beale is finally finding his niche at No 10.

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Rejuvenated by playmaking duties, Kurtley Beale hopes to become the perfect Wallabies No 10 but doesn't want an easy ride through Quade Cooper exiting rugby.

Beale has quickly replaced disgruntled friend Cooper as Australia's game-breaking five-eighth and will get his shot at Bledisloe redemption on Saturday night against the All Blacks.

A month ago such a scenario seemed fanciful after he was dropped as an out-of-condition fullback for a second time in three tests.

But after taking over from Cooper in the 31-8 loss to South Africa and 25-19 win over Argentina, he is now relishing the chance to be the main man against all-conquering New Zealand.

"I'm feeling pretty confident," Beale said on Monday.

"I'm enjoying myself at the 10 position at the moment and it's exciting playing with the guys around me, they're making my job a lot easier.

"I feel a lot better. I feel a lot fitter and stronger than I did earlier in the year."

Beale had endured a terrible start to the Rugby Championship with a shocker against the All Blacks in the 27-19 loss in Sydney and then came off the bench in the 22-0 drubbing in Auckland.

He admitted being out of shape, rusty and low on confidence then but has regained his fitness and self-belief through hard work and the enjoyment of touring.

Now he's a lock in the No 10 jumper for the Wallabies but the 23-year-old X-factor is still keen on seeing his mate Cooper return to the side.

Cooper's future in rugby hangs in the balance following his claims the national team housed a "toxic environment", frustrations with a "boring" style of play and tweeting a desire to play rugby league with friend Sonny Bill Williams.

Beale certainly doesn't want to see the Queensland Reds star lost to the code once he recovers from knee surgery.

"He's a class player so once he gets his body right (I hope he returns)," Beale said.

"He took the Reds to the (2011 Super Rugby title) and that year he was world-class.

"So if we can have him in the squad and with his knowledge as well - he's very smart, he knows how to play the game well - it will definitely help us moving forward."

Coach Robbie Deans wants Beale and his Melbourne Rebels halves partner Nick Phipps to be more proactive at

Suncorp Stadium than the Wallabies were in the first two Bledisloe clashes and Beale knows they must be on top of their game to compete against the world champions.

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"If we are going to give these guys a good crack we've got to execute really well," Beale said. "That's what let us down in the first two encounters.

"Obviously they're in awesome form at the moment and they're looking unbeatable all the time.

"They're probably looking the best ever since I've been playing. They're playing some very exciting football and all their players are close to the best in their position in the world.

"That's exciting for us. It's a great opportunity for us to show we can match it with them."

- AAP

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