‘Why wouldn’t you?’: Beale an Olympic sevens wildcard, as cross code great backs him for NRL


Days after Stephen Hoiles declared “there is no doubt” Kurtley Beale was ready for a Super Rugby return, triple-international Michael O’Connor believes Australia’s Sevens outfit should consider inviting the 95-cap Wallaby to train with the squad ahead of July’s Paris Olympics.

What’s more, O’Connor, who played alongside the Ella brothers before making a successful code switch and carving out a stellar career in rugby league, believes Beale could cut it in the NRL if given the opportunity.

“When you look at what’s running around, you could easily see him fitting into a game of rugby league,” O’Connor told The Roar. “It’s just finding the right club.

“I think he’d work well with another ball player.

“He’s got some footwork that will take him through the line, which is necessary in league, and it’s less crowded in thirteens.

“He’s a good footballer. He’s got a good sense of when to go and when not. While I think he’s more of a runner, he can ball play and if you get that mix right in league, you’ve got a pretty good five-eighth.”

Kurtley Beale made his return to rugby for Randwick during their Club Rugby Championship loss to Brothers at Crosby Park on March 16, 2024 in Brisbane. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Beale, who was cleared of rape charges last month, played his first rugby match in more than a year last week as he ran out for Hoiles’ Randwick side in the Australian Club Championship against Brothers.

Randwick lost narrowly, but Beale was sharp on his return, kicking long from the opening kick off and making a pivotal linebreak on his line and second involvement moments later to play his part in a coast-to-coast try to get the Galloping Greens back within a few points.

Hoiles, who replaced Beale after 54 minutes to ensure he didn’t bust him in his return, was thrilled by his former teammate’s return.

“In all honesty, he played 50 minutes and was probably the most dangerous looking player on the field,” Hoiles said on Stan Sport’s Between Two Posts.

“Excellent, sharp, fit, fast. And he needed that – he had a very, very tough week. Condolences to his family.

“He just got cleared to play on the Monday and then sadly lost his brother on Thursday night. So we weren’t sure until right up until kick off if he’d play. But, yeah, he was really, really good on the field for Randwick.”

Asked if he was ready for a Super Rugby recall, Hoiles emphatically said yes.

“There is no doubt,” Hoiles said.

“Don’t even get me started on that. He just had a spark about him.

“He wanted to stay on it. I just thought a 35-year-old who hasn’t played for 15 months, probably didn’t need 80 minutes.

“I almost tore a hammy watching him.”

.@kurtley_beale returned to Rugby at the weekend and Hoilesy says there’s “no doubt” he’s ready for another crack at #SuperRugbyPacific ????

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With Super Rugby rosters full, Beale will have to bide his time for a recall.

His best chance of making a return in the competition is if a side is hit hard with injuries, with the Rebels particularly thin in their playmaking stocks below Carter Gordon.

Another option that could yet present itself is if Beale was invited to train with John Manenti’s sevens side.

It’s understood Manenti is open to Beale coming down and training, but that won’t occur over the next fortnight with the Hong Kong Sevens to get underway early next month.

While Australia’s men’s sevens team has made two finals this season, the side has struggled with consistency and lacks one or two playmaking weapons.

They are also heavily reliant on fellow Indigenous star Maurice Longbottom.

On the evidence of last week’s club hit out for Randwick, where Beale showed he had lost none of his speed nor playmaking skills, the Wallabies back could give Manenti another ace up his sleeve particularly if injuries strike.

O’Connor, who played at the Hong Kong Sevens for Australia and later coached the side, as well as served as a Wallabies selector in 2007 and 2019, said it was an option worth exploring.

“Why wouldn’t you?” O’Connor said.

“He’s certainly got some attacking flair and he hasn’t lost that.

“He’s very fit, he’s got a great mindset now he’s got that court stuff behind him. I think he’s got a point to prove. He’s not ready to hang his boots up, so why not.

Wallabies legend Michael O’Connor believes Kurtley Beale could succeed for Australia at the Olympics. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“I reckon the blokes would love him. He’s a really nice kid. That’s a lot of it. You’re going to be away with the likeminded players, who really are there for the right reasons and they want to do well and I think he’d bring the young guys through.

“I don’t see any downside in it. I’d certainly be looking at it because I know he’s a positive influence around the team and where he is in his career I think he’s got a point to prove.

“He wouldn’t play all the minutes, but if you managed him he could jump on and make a difference, particularly with seven players on the field.”

Beale is set to take the field against Eastwood this weekend, where he will line up alongside returning Waratahs young gun Will Harrison.

Meanwhile, former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is firming to make his long-awaited debut under Manenti after adjusting to the conditioning required to play sevens.

His expected call-up comes after Antoine Dupont, who is arguably the world’s best fifteens player, led Frace to their first World Series title in 19 years last month in Los Angeles.

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