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LONDON: Kurtley Beale has declared “anything is possible” for Michael Cheika’s Wallabies despite lingering doubts over the fitness of key starters Israel Folau and David Pocock.
Folau (ankle) and Pocock (calf) will be given until the last minute to prove their fitness before ‘s knockout clash with Scotland on Sunday. The uncertainty has the potential to dent a squad’s confidence but Beale, who has run at fullback all week and will start for Folau if the dual international fails to make the grade by Sunday, said the Wallabies were taking the what-ifs in their stride.
He revealed a quiet but powerful belief in the team’s potential was fuelling their bid for a third World Cup. “Anything is possible,” Beale said. “I’ve always thought that we’ve got the right group of players to be able to do anything we strive to do. I think the best thing about this group, and the coaches have been harping on about it, is that we’ve been taking it week by week.
“By concentrating on the game ahead and paying our respects to the opposition, that allows us to be able to focus on the job at hand and not have any distractions.”
Beale knows what that requires in mindset and preparation. Cheika is not the first coach to use the talented footballer as an impact player off the bench, but injury to winger Rob Horne saw him thrust into the action early in the first half against England two weeks ago. His assured and energetic contribution, including the magnificent try-scoring switch up with Bernard Foley, was instrumental in the Wallabies’ resounding victory.
“I wasn’t [expecting to come on in the first half],” Beale said. “It’s really important to understand the detail of the game, trying to not be disconnected from the group whatsoever. There’s a really good balance there and guys are always willing to help out wherever they can. That just shows credit to the group of players we’ve got at the moment. Everyone wants to learn and improve and get better. It’s a pretty good culture to be a part of at the moment and I guess it’s helping our footy along the way.”
Beale has made just two Test starts under Cheika and appears destined to wear the No.23 jersey as long as Folau stays mobile. The 26-year-old did not conceal his ambition for starting honours but the reality is that his injection off the bench has worked superbly for for some time.
He scored the match-winning try in the final minute against Wales in 2012 and has consistently used his emotive presence to help freshen the minds and legs of weary teammates. “Whenever I get the opportunity it’s important to try and add that spark and bring that energy, to try and lift the guys up around me,” he said.
“Naturally that’s just the way I like to play as well – fast-tempo, upbeat and try and get involved as much as I can.”