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Beale inspires Force to Super Rugby win

Andrew Mathieson -

Teammates rave on about Kurtley Beale's Super return to new rugby franchise

Western Force scored just their second Super Rugby Pacific victory this year and as far as Kurtley Beale's coach and a long list of his teammates were concerned, much of the credit for the 37-15 triumph over the Crusaders came down to its newest signing.

Beale only landed in Perth from Sydney barely a week and a half ago after turning up on short notice to cover a roster spot for the Force's final six matches, plus possibly and quite unexpectedly from the quarter-finals.

The West Australian franchise holds just a 2-6 win/loss record after Saturday night and now sits eleventh on the table, just above the last-placed, Christchurch-based rival from their bottom two clash, but is also just a win behind eighth-placed Moana Pasifika.

Beale's presence on the field in his customary fullback role that he made his own for NSW Waratahs over four stints – 2007-2011, 2014-2016, 2018-2020 and 2023 – was instrumental in controlling his new side's manoeuvring in attack and defence through his experience, knowledge and communication, according to the Force.

Returning to rugby union for the first time in more than 12 months after being acquitted of sexual assault charges, the Darug and Kamilaroi man showed glimpses of his sparkling brilliance with ball in hand following time between the trial that only ended in February out training with a renowned fitness and speed coach to maintain his body condition.

Force coach Simon Cron, a former Waratahs assistant coach, was delighted to snap up the 35-year-old after Australia's other four Super Rugby sides including the Tahs had not reached out and offered Beale a last-minute deal ahead of the 2024 season.

"KB and I go back a little bit, and when I gave him the phone call, it was a pretty easy conversation, and he jumped on the plane with Maddy, his wife, and their son," Cron said during the string post-game interviews on Nine/Stan telecasts.

"Watching him at training on Thursday, he just glides his timing.

"But also what he gives to our boys is from the back three, it gives some experience, and it gives them some chat.

"So he helps Hamish (Stewart), he helps Donno (Ben Donaldson), he helps the chase on the edge.

"I just don't think you can underestimate what he does with his voice."

Force captain Nic White, a former Wallabies teammate of Beale's at halfback, was also in raptures over the late-year inclusion in a must-win match in front of home Perth fans.

White called Beale's communication in his first run for the Force as "phenomenal".

Beale had voiced his thoughts to the playing group from his first training session after the Force, on the other side of the bye, were thrashed 50-3 by the Blues in Auckland a fortnight earlier in a soul-searching defeat.

"I'm going to give a lot of credit tonight to KB," White said.

"The voice KB brought as soon as he come in was great.

"It would have been easy for him to be quiet, as he's new to this whole system.

"But he just stepped straight to being a real leader and a guy who is benefitting from that voice is Donno (Donaldson).

"Donno has become a real leader of late after we have gone through some real tough patches.

"Between the two of them, we can start to build on things."

Donaldson, regarded as one of Australia's great hopes for future success, felt having a player of the calibre of Beale, in his 162nd Super Rugby appearance, to guide the flyhalf around HBF Park was nearly the difference for the Force's first win over the Kiwi outfit in 11 years.

Beale finished the evening with 26 run metres, one clean break, six ball carries, while throwing seven passes and beating past three defenders one-on-one.

"KB was awesome all week (heading into Saturday night's game)," Donaldson said.

"He's been here for a week and a half, so not long, but he's come into the group, real chirpy, chatting to the boys, giving us all of his experience and he was just awesome tonight.

"He was taking all the high balls, he was running freely, he's given me great pointers from the back there, and even before the game and during the week he has given me some great advice."

While the Force unanimously agreed Beale has been a bonus selection, the key message afterwards from lock Izack Rodda was more about what returning to the rugby fraternity will do for the Indigenous veteran to end his rugby career on a high note.

"He was massive for us and has come in and only had like a week's training," Rodda said.

"He was up to the speed and performed well – really, I was just so happy for him."

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