Beal's 'X factor' appeal leads to Wallabies selection
EX-AUSTRALIA coach John Connolly has labelled Kurtley Beale's Wallabies selection a great "X factor" move that can be turned into a masterstroke by playing him at five-eighth.
Current Wallabies coach Robbie Deans admitted yesterday that Beale - a gifted but wayward character - had been required to "assure" the team he was mentally sound before being named in the squad that was preparing to face the British and Irish Lions.
With Australia satisfied the utility back was in a good headspace, Connolly said his selection was a "no-brainer".
"He's a real attacking threat and to beat the Lions you need the Beales and (Quade) Coopers and the guys who can really threaten them," he said.
"I think Beale is definitely an X factor."
Deans is yet to name his starting 15 for the first Test at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on June 22, but Beale has been brought into the squad as a fullback/five-eighth option ahead of Cooper.
Connolly - who labelled Cooper's omission for the squad a "disgrace" - said Beale was the best fullback in Australia, but playing him at five-eighth against the Lions might be a better option.
It has been speculated that James O'Connor will start at five-eighth, but Connolly believes the Rebels star may be a defensive liability in that position because of his lack of size.
"He's (Beale) a threat at five-eighth," Connolly said.
"He hasn't got the passing game of Cooper, but he's got threatability (sic)."
Last month the Rebels stood Beale down over alcohol-related issues and he sought treatment at a private health facility in Sydney.
Speaking on the Sunshine Coast yesterday before a closed Stockland Park training session, Deans said: "The fact that we've got him (Beale) here is indicative of the fact that we believe in his ability to cope.
"So he obviously had to cater for his physical needs and his mental needs, and he had to assure us and his teammates he's done that. And I can assure you from what we've witnessed through training, he's ready to go."
Beale said that while he still had "a long way to go", being with the Wallabies was the best therapy for him. He said there was "a process in place" regarding ongoing treatment, "but I'll do that when I need to".
"Like I said, there's a really good support base that I can rely on, and I think the best support for me at the moment is here, being in this environment around such great men who are very supportive and look out for you," he said.
Meanwhile, Queensland Reds and Australian Sevens winger Luke Morahan, who scored a sensational try in the Reds' loss to the Lions last Saturday night, was called into the Wallabies squad yesterday after Brumbies winger Joe Tomane was ruled out with a toe injury.