‘I’d love to see him back’: Beale set to take first step in rugby comeback, targets milestone event


As Kurtley Beale prepares to return to the footy field for the first time in more than a year, Waratahs winger Triston Reilly says NSW players would welcome the Wallabies great back to the Super Rugby franchise with open arms.

Beale, 35, was stood down for more than a year by Rugby Australia and the Waratahs as he faced charges of sexual assault. It meant Beale was ineligible to push for selection in a fourth World Cup.

But after the well-known Wallaby was cleared by a jury last month of any wrongdoing, Beale has been open about his desire to make a comeback.

“I’ve always been a big admirer of league, growing up in Mt Druitt … but also there’s been an admiration throughout my career,” Beale told 9News after being found not guilty of sexual assault

“Always watching league over the weekends and taking little bits from different players to add to my game. There is interest there, for both codes.”

Beale has attracted some interest in rugby league, but the 95-capped Wallaby will instead make his comeback via club rugby as he pulls on the Galloping Greens jersey in Saturday’s Australian Club Championship fixture against Brothers in Brisbane.

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Kurtley Beale is set to make his return to rugby for Randwick in their Australian Club Championship fixture against Brothers. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The fixture could also see Wallabies and Reds star James O’Connor make his comeback from a hamstring injury in the match.

While most Super Rugby rosters are full for 2024, it’s understood Rugby Australia won’t stand in the way of any side that seeks to sign him later in the year if injuries strike.

As one official said, “It’s a clean slate”.

Another said Beale was “going about his return the right way”, as he returns via club rugby.

After surprising club officials by turning up to training almost a week ago, Beale impressed many teammates with his conditioning.

It’s why former Wallaby and Super Rugby-winning teammate Stephen Hoiles, who led Randwick to their drought-breaking Shute Shield title in his first year in charge last year, has had no hesitation in selecting the utility back.

Indeed, many believe it’s the best Beale has looked in years.  

While Beale could likely pick up a contract overseas, it’s understood he wants to stay closer to home, particularly with a second baby on the way.

It’s also understood that Beale’s ultimate hope is to become the first Indigenous player to reach the 100 Test milestone for the Wallabies and compete in next year’s British and Irish Lions campaign.

If he was to compete in a second Lions campaign, he would be 36. Irish legend Johnny Sexton retired following last year’s World Cup aged 38.

Australia’s Kurtley Beale (right) with celebrates with James O’Connor after kicking and scoring a penalty late against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on November 20, 2021. (Photo: David Davies, via Getty Images)

On Tuesday, recently returned Indigenous Waratahs winger Reilly said he would welcome Beale pushing for selection once more.

“He went through whatever he needed to go through and he’s come out the other side,” Reilly, who also plays for Randwick, said.

“I heard that he was down at Randwick on the weekend… he trained there on Thursday. But, yeah, I’d love to see him back in the game.

“He’s a very good player and I’ve always looked up to someone like him.”

 He added: “I’ve always looked up to Kurtley, like he was one of the only Indigenous players that I sort of knew coming through rugby when I was growing up.

“I’m pretty close with him and I think with (Dylan) Pietsch and myself here, hopefully we can get more Indigenous players in Super Rugby.

“There’s not many of us and yeah, we’re just paving the way for others to come through and hopefully with success. And whoever’s the next Indigenous Wallaby, hopefully we can just build that for the future.”

The Waratahs will take on the Blues at Allianz Stadium on Saturday, with Darren Coleman’s side needing to atone for last week’s heartbreaking two-point loss to the Highlanders.

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