Wallabies playmaker Kurtley Beale identifies Ireland's threats ahead of three Test series

Alex Broun 20:11 06/06/2018
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Wallabies playmaker Kurtley Beale is ready for the Irish challenge

Wallabies chief playmaker, and 2010 World Rugby player of the year nominee, Kurtley Beale is well known for being able to dissect opposing defences.

To identify their weak spot and with a rapier like thrust or perfectly timed pass cut them to ribbons.

But chatting to the Blacktown born 29-year-old it’s clear that it’s not just on the field he’s able to dissect the opposition.

Ask him about the threats Ireland pose ahead of the three-Test series, which begins in Brisbane this Saturday (UAE: 14:00) and he cuts straight to the quick.

Sport360 put him on the spot to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the Grand Slam champions.

Q Ireland have just come off an incredibly successful Six Nations campaign. What do you expect from them in this series?

A They obviously bring their own unique strategy.

I think firstly they are a squad, a team, that lays a very solid platform up front. (They are) very set piece orientated and then from that they rely on direct running off (fly half) Johnny Sexton and (scrum half) Conor Murray.

Very simple but very effective on the way they run their lines, (as well as) smart and very clinical at the breakdown and that allows them to be able to spread the ball to their pace out wide.

Q Is that one of Ireland’s strengths – the simplicity of their approach?

A It probably is some of the most simple things, the simplest plan, and I think it’s something we can really nullify and encourages us to work on our defence.

When we have tactics for the physicality of the game, it’s something that needs to be laid down from the first moment, as I think that will be important in determining which team will have the momentum to carry out the game.

Beale is full of praise for Johnny Sexton

Beale is full of praise for Johnny Sexton

Q You spent a year playing with Wasps in 2016-17, did that help you get more of an insight into the way Ireland play?

A Knowing a lot of their key players, that obviously has a huge influence on their team. Murray, Sexton – two of probably the most in form halves in the world at the moment.

A lot of their play dictates how the Irish play and coming off the Six Nations – they had a huge influence on how they won that – Leinster as well with Sexton in the PRO14 and Champions Cup – he had a huge part to play there.

They’re very simple, (a) well drilled, type of player. Again, going back to the halves, the players like Sexton, he’s obviously the most creative player but outside him, the backs are damaging runners possessing good feet and their pace out wide is also electrifying.

Q One of the key attacking weapons for the Wallabies will be your understanding with fly-half Bernard Foley. Tell us about your partnership. It seems very balanced.

A Bernard’s obviously an exceptional player and he’s a great ball player. He’s pretty solid in his game. He knows how to steady the ship.

We do have that balance, where he’s the guy that’s very calm, composed and I’m the guy that loves to take the risk and spark the backline.

We feel we have that good combination and that good balance of knowing when to play and when not to.

That understanding of what we want from each other in key moments in the game is vital and we know that if we can do that, and combine well and work together in those two playmaker roles, we’re able to create space for our outside men.

Q You also have some exciting players out wide – Israel Folau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani. How important will it be to get them into the game?

A All exciting players in their own specific positions. They bring a lot to the group in bringing different strengths to our game, that adds a lot of unpredictability to how we want to play.

We’ve had experience over the last few years so we are used to each other in how we want to play the game and I think that’s important leading in to this series.

With such a short turnaround (six days from the last Super Rugby game to the first Test), short amount of time to get preparations right, combinations with those three positions is certainly crucial and something that we need to be ready and able to utilise.

Q The Wallabies had an up and down 2017, beating the All Blacks but losing twice to Scotland (home and away) and falling to England (30-6) at Twickenham. Where do you think the team is at?

A There’s a very good dynamic in the group mixed with senior and youngsters coming through.

There’s more experience than inexperience in the team and that makes a big difference in allowing us to take on opposition.

This is a really well-balanced group, the culture. We’re a tight bunch and we get the best out of each other – although we’re still building on believing in the potential that we can deliver.

And I think throughout the year that’s something that Michael Cheika will certainly be instilling in us.

Kurtley Beale's partnership with Bernard Foley (above) will be crucial to their success.

Kurtley Beale’s partnership with Bernard Foley (above) will be crucial to their success.

Q Is this Ireland series an important step in the Wallabies development towards RWC 2019?

A This Ireland series is a great opportunity for us as a group to keep stepping forward and keep progressing on those certain areas, like believing in each other and trusting ourselves at this level.

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