KURTLEY Beale did more to rewrite his future as a Wallaby with two thumping tackles on Sonny Bill Williams than a season of nimble breaks and sidesteps.
Since his schoolboy days, the enigmatic figure has been able to dance and stutter-step and be more creative with his vision for the game than a team of Springboks.
It’s kudos for what doesn’t come so naturally to him that won him back a legion of fans in Dunedin.
The front-on tackle to stop SBW in his tracks when the All Blacks were in full rally mode just after halftime was a ripper.
He was at it again just minutes later when a fine hit and rip for a turnover repelled a SBW charge just 5m from the tryline when being run over looked a fair chance.
This was Beale, the Test inside centre, stepping up to tackle in the midfield not with a leave pass to slide out of harm’s way to the wing.
Australian rugby has been waiting for the new Beale for way longer than a final decision on the Western Force saga.
He was a standout super-sub at the 2015 World Cup in a far more experienced team.
In this dressing room pre-Test, he was passionately imparting his experience to props Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa as the team leader he has talked of becoming.
He’s a true 62-Test figure after his overlong rugby childhood and did everything to set the example.
Just as Beale won admiration for doing what came toughest to him, the Wallabies and standout backrower Sean McMahon did too when the going got toughest.
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When the All Blacks run down a 17-0 deficit to lead 21-17, most rivals melt. The Wallabies had not one but two rallies in them to fightback to 22-21 and 29-28 before the final heartbreak.
Test great David Campese’s response on the fighting, clawing grit was instant: “Congrats guys. Just like the old days.”
McMahon stood tallest when the Kiwi onslaught came in the second half when he made most of his 13 charges and thumping tackles.
Like his Wallabies, coach Michael Cheika was gutted because he’s not into the “gallant losers” tag.
The Wallabies won back respect in Dunedin and their wavering fans.
Originally published as Kurtley’s defence is the Beale deal
Source: sports dailytelegraph