Beale passes on long-range kicking duties
HE kicked a 50 metre goal from the sideline to beat the Springboks on the Wallabies' last visit to Bloemfontein.
But Kurtley Beale won't be putting his hand up for more long-range bombs when Australia returns to the same venue this week.
He doesn't have to. Not when Reece Hodge is in the team, and is equipped a cannon in his right-boot that can kick goals from well over 60 metres in the thin air of the South African high-veldt.
"Nah, mate. Hodgey's your man,” Beale said.
"I back him, he's got a great boot on him.”
Last year, prior to the Wallabies' Test in Pretoria, Hodge used the high altitude to send kicks over from "at least 60 on the angle” in training. He'd announced himself in Test rugby a month earlier by nailing a 55m penalty against the All Blacks.
But while Hodge may have the distance, Beale's boot has the result on the board. And not just any result, but one of the Wallabies' most famous.
When Beale kicked a post-siren penalty in 2010 from about 47 metres out - but with extra length added for being near the sideline - it secured the Wallabies' first win on the high veldt in 47 years.
Now older and wiser, the Wallabies centre still treasures the memory.
"To win the (first) game up on the high veldt in 40 years, it was a pretty special moment for me and for the team, and it helped build momentum into that year. And it turned out to be a pretty good year for us,” Beale said.
Though Beale had continued his excellent form of that year by helping the Wallabies surge out to a 31-6 lead after 20 minutes, the Boks clawed their way back and Beale blamed himself for falling behind with minutes left. The Boks had scored a try soon after Beale suffered a now famous Falcon.
But when the Wallabies won a penalty in the 79th minute, and with Matt Giteau off, Beale stepped forward to kick it. All or nothing.
"I had been kicking all week on the high veldt and obviously when you are up higher as a goal-kicker you always try and push your limits a bit ,” Beale said.
” At training I was easily kicking from 60 out, which gave me a lot of confidence,” Beale said.
He hit it flush and though it pushed a little left, the fade that only accompanies the very sweetest kicks saw it go over. The Wallabies won 41-39.
"It felt good and as soon as it went over I was swamped by the boys,” Beale said.
The Wallabies needed to get a win last start when they downed the Pumas; this week - to continue to breed self-belief - they need to get a win on the road. To do it in South Africa, and at high altitude once again, would be huge for the team's psychology.
"Consistency is probably a big one for us - aiming for that consistency week in and week out is pretty important to the way we want to build into the season,” Beale said.
The Wallabies flew over to Johannesburg on Saturday, giving themselves a full seven days to acclimatise to the altitude. The team will move to Bloemfontein on Thursday.
The extended stay may be a small thing but it is all part of a plan to remove any potential physical or mental roadblocks that could stop the Wallabies from toppling the Boks again on the high veldt.
"Physically, that's probably going to be a huge challenge for a lot of the guys,” Beale said.
"Making sure that we get our sleep patterns right so we can attack our training sessions really well, along with our nutrition and all that type of stuff. It's important we tick all those little things off, some of the guys have already been talking about that and making sure we're all aware because those small things will make a big difference in making the right result in the end.
"Definitely by being over here as long as we can before the game, it'll definitely help us attack the week the way we should.”