While the drama around Kurtley Beale has unfolded over the last few weeks his contract negotiations with the ARU had been put on hold. ARU headquarters had tabled an offer which reportedly included an undisclosed ‘top up’ to keep Beale in the Australian Rugby. After the guilty plea and subsequent fining of Beale in Sydney on Friday for sending a vulgar text to an ARU employee ARU CEO Bill Pulver indicated that contract negotiations would be reopened. Is there a case for a financial top up for Kurtley Beale?
Considering that only 25 contracts are issued it doesn’t leave a lot of room for non first choice players. You basically have your first choice players and ten exceptional second choice players. Does Beale fit into this category? Lets look at his position on the pecking order of Australian rugby and see.
The Incumbent. Bernard Foley.
Second Choice. A toss up between Matt Toomua and Quade Cooper.
Beale is at least forth in this category.
The Incumbent. Matt Toomua. ( yes I know Leali’ifano played there last game)
Second choice. Here the waters get a little muddy. Foley and Quade Cooper have both played very passable tests at second five. And Christian Leali’ifano had the best game of any Australian 12 this year in his last game. But he hadn’t played a test there for a very long time. Add young Kyle Godwin to the mix and water turns even muddier. I say this one is too close to call.
The Incumbents: Adam Ashley-Cooper and Joe Tomane.
Second Choices. There is a plethora of great and emerging Australian wingers. Henry Speight has just become available for selection. James O’Connor is back in Australia next season. Tom English is a up and comer. Rob Horne is no slouch. Peter Betham and Alofa Alofa are also in the mix and the Honey Badger may be back in super rugby in the Japanese off season.
I expect Speight to take one wing spot and O’Connor would be my second choice for the other. But none of the other guys would let us down. Beale is unlucky here. He’s a good winger but it’s a strong category.
The Incumbent. Israel Folau.
Second choice. Kurtley Beale? Add to the mix Bernard Foley, Quade Cooper, Jesse Mogg, James O’Connor and Karmichael Hunt (Who knows) and you have a pretty good list of fulbacks.
I’m not picking an incumbent here. Beale has great value as a utility but so do Foley, Cooper, Adam Ashley-Cooper and James O’Connor.
Does Beale qualify for a top up on playing ability?
I believe that not only should our top 25 contract players be exceptional rugby players but they should also be ambassadors for the code. Kurtley Beale has a long history of getting into trouble.
In 2007 he was caught drunk driving while unlicensed. He had already lost his licence for drunk driving.
In 2010 he was caught and fined for urinating outside a nightclub in Brisbane.
In 2012 he was charge with assaulting a bouncer in Brisbane. The case was dealt with through mediation. In Queensland mediation can only begin once you admit your guilt. It is the same process used in Cooper Laptop case.
In 2013 he was involved in a fight with Gareth Delve and Cooper Vuna.
In 2013, just seven weeks later, Beale was suspended for breaching the alcohol ban agreed to by Beale in the aftermath of the Delve/Vuna punch up.
In 2014 he sent a vulgar text to other players depicting an ARU employee as fat and naked with the employees name underneath. He occidentally sent the text directly to the employee.
In 2014 he was involved in a mid air altercation with two ARU employees and the national coach on the way to Argentina.
After nearly every incident he has fronted the press and promised to mend his ways. His track records says something completely different.
So there you have it. Do you think Kurtley Beale deserves a top up from the ARU? Does he make the grade as a player? Does he make the grade as an ambassador for the code?