Beale, Foley will get equal opportunities
January 21, 2014
Kurtley Beale is in fine shape © Getty Images
Foley starred for the Waratahs in 2013, performing strongly each week to earning Test recognition with the Wallabies in The Rugby Championship and on the end-of-year tour. He was a key to the sparkling attack the Waratahs produced in 2013, the fly-half top of the Super Rugby stats for try assists (12) and linebreak assists (15) to go with 10 linebreaks and strong kicking and running games.
But Beale has returned to New South Wales in a bid to put back on the rails his life that spiralled out of control at times in Melbourne, and the Wallabies playmaker is fit and raring to go after recovering fully from off-season shoulder surgery.
Beale acknowledged last year that he was "lucky the position I'm in now" at the Waratahs after a final season in Melbourne that saw him suspended twice for disciplinary breaches, photographed alongside James O'Connor in a fast-food restaurant at 4am just days before the second Test against the British & Irish Lions, and spend two weeks in a rehabilitation centre for alcohol-related issues after an incident in South Africa where he was involved in a punch up with two team-mates.
Cheika said on Sky Radio's Big Sports Breakfast on Tuesday that Beale was fully recovered from the off-season surgery, that he "was well ahead of schedule" and would "definitely be ready for the first trial" against Melbourne rebels in Albury.
Bernard Foley was a key to the performance of the backs in 2013 © Getty Images
But the Waratahs coach made no promises about Beale's involvement in 2014, saying only that "we've got a few ideas about how that will look" but he and Foley would "both get an opportunity during the practice games, and they'll both get an opportunity to play in different positions as well while we rotate the squad and get a look at different combinations".
Cheika said his fly-half for the opening Super Rugby fixture of the season, against Western Force in Sydney on February 23, would be selected in part because of "how they play in combination with the two centres we decide to put next to them".
Cheika said his chief problem in selecting as side is "around fitting a few quality player that we have in the backs into the one team". He did, however, suggest that Israel Folau would start at fullback rather than outside centre, saying "he's gone very well at 15 and we'll start off there".
"We'll just see how the team pans out … over the practice matches."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton