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Hiccup
Banned Kurtley Beale still in Lions Test frame
May 9, 2013

Kurtley Beale's talent is set to buy him a further chance despite the troubled Wallabies and Melbourne Rebels playmaker copping a new alcohol-related suspension.

Beale has been stood down from the Rebels' Super Rugby round 13 match against the Blues in Auckland on Saturday, for breaches of agreed behavioural protocols, and he faces an uncertain future with Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and Melbourne officials to investigate further his erratic behaviour. But he is likely to be stood down for just the Blues game, and he remains a chance to play for Australia against the British and Irish Lions, with the Rebels describing his latest indiscretion as a "hiccup".

If he comes back next week, Beale will still have four Super Rugby games to ensure he has the confidence of Robbie Deans before the Wallabies coach names his final 31-man squad on June 11 for the Lions series.

It was just three weeks ago that Brisbane police dropped an assault charge against Beale after he reached a mediation agreement with his alleged victim, a hotel bouncer, over an incident last year. And it was only last Friday night that the 24-year-old returned to the Rebels team from a month-long suspension after an alcohol-fuelled incident in South Africa in which he struck two team-mates. Beale reinforced his immense value to the Rebels and Wallabies with a dynamic showing off the bench, scoring a try as his side almost upset the defending champion Chiefs.

But he is understood to have gone to a Melbourne Storm NRL game on Saturday afternoon and on to a bar, drinking alcohol. He also missed a mid-week appointment with a psychologist which was part of his treatment program.

Rebels interim chief executive Rob Clarke was adamant on Thursday that Beale's ongoing treatment program was working, and he was supportive of the player continuing at the Super Rugby franchise. "I think it's been a pretty comprehensive program and Kurtley acknowledges that he's seeing benefits," Clarke said. "The key thing is that he honours the details of that program and sticks to it because it's in everybody's interest to get him in a better place. Unfortunately there's been a small hiccup on that process and that's why we've taken the action we have."

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The Rebels made clear that Beale hadn't been involved in an public incident but had breached the behavioural guidelines he signed to return to play.

Beale previously appeared to have won the trust of Deans,the coach even helping the player maintain fitness by training with him in Sydney during his lengthy ban. "The light's gone on so to speak for him," Deans told AAP last week. "He's much better for the processes he's gone through and continues to go through."

Rebels coach Damien Hill said on Thursday the latest indiscretion was disappointing for everyone. Hill had previously indicated Beale may be on his last chance, but now believed it was too early to make that call. "You can't shy away from the fact that he is one of the best footballers in the country," Hill said. "It's just unfortunate that the behavioural side is interfering with that at the moment. It's really disappointing." Hill said that Beale was very remorseful and felt he'd let his team-mates and himself down again.

Rebels skipper Scott Higginbotham said the side would manage in Beale's absence. "Kurtley's obviously a great player and he proved that last game, but we're used to playing without him," Higginbotham said.

© AAP
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