Beale back for old side showdown
Melbourne Rebels five-eighth Kurtley Beale looks set to tackle his old side NSW after recovering from a shoulder injury.
The Wallabies No.10 ran strongly at Rebels training and will be given the green light for Friday night’s Super Rugby game at Allianz Stadium in Sydney provided he pulls up well on Wednesday.
Beale has plenty to play for as the Rebels look to rebound from their loss to the Brumbies.
He stunned the Waratahs when he defected to the Rebels for the 2012 season, although they are believed to be chasing hard to get him back home with his Melbourne contract up at the end of this year.
Coach Damien Hill said Beale’s recovery after the Friday night game had been better than expected.
‘‘He ran with us yesterday and he saw the doctor today and the news was positive.
‘‘All things going well, he should be fine,’’ Hill said.
Wallaby backrower Scott Higginbotham is another who needs to pass a final fitness test after suffering a head knock.
Richard Kingi is the first choice should Beale be ruled out, with Hill reluctant to dislodge James O’Connor at fullback.
‘‘James is as comfortable at 10 as he is at 15, but I think, for continuity of position, it would be good to keep him at 15.’’
Hill said he wasn’t concerned with who the Waratahs will play at five-eighth, with Berrick Barnes likely to return from injury.
He believed NSW should continue with code-hopper Israel Folau at fullback despite his disappointing debut in their loss to Queensland.
That wasn’t because he felt the Rebels could exploit the newcomer, but that he deserved another chance.
The Rebels had a taste of Folau’s ability when he scored two tries in his first game for NSW in a trial in Hobart.
‘‘Everyone is focusing on what Izzy didn’t do well and they should be focusing on what he did do well,’’ Hill said.
‘‘The Waratahs made seven line breaks and he was a part of five of them.
‘‘He’s a very good player and I think you should give credit to the Reds for how they managed him.
‘‘If he is playing, he’s going to be danger.’’