Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Folau backing troubled friend Beale

Kurtley Beale, pictured, and Israel Folau will be team-mates at the Waratahs
Kurtley Beale, pictured, and Israel Folau will be team-mates at the Waratahs

Israel Folau hopes he can help Kurtley Beale get his career back on track.

Folau and Beale will be team-mates for both the Waratahs and Australia next season after the former rugby league star re-signed with the ARU on Thursday.

While Folau has enjoyed a dream debut season in rugby union, Beale has lurched from one drama to another in 2013, which included being stood down for punching a Rebels team-mate as well as a stint in a rehabilitation clinic to deal with alcohol issues.

Folau has become good mates with the troubled playmaker since his switch to the code and is hopeful he can have a good influence on Beale going forward.

"Kurtley's had a tough time (lately)," Folau said.

"I'm really good mates with him, I'm there for support if he needs anything and it will great to be playing with him next year.

"I will do everything I can to try and help him, whether that's on the field or off the field. Whatever he needs, I'm a good mate to give him a hand."

With another two years in the code locked away, there is a belief Folau will be groomed as a full-back as a means of getting him more involved in the play.

While Folau is open to the idea of playing in the number 15 jersey, Beale is also seen as a candidate for the position under new Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie.

"He (Beale) can have it (number 15) if he wants it," Folau said with a smile.

"If I was to get an opportunity I'd take it with both hands for sure. But it's something that has to be decided by the coaching staff.

"I'm really happy just being on the team first of all and doing my role, playing on the wing.

"This year I enjoyed playing full-back (with the Waratahs) but it's very exciting to have Kurtley on board too."

Folau said the influence of Waratahs coach Michael Cheika and the lure of the 2015 World Cup had a huge bearing on his decision to shun offers from rugby league to remain in the 15-a-side game.

"(Cheika) was a big part to my decision in staying. From the first time I met him I had a really good feeling about him as a person and a coach as well," Folau said.

"It's been how I expected and I'm looking forward to being coached by him for a few more years. There were a few options. I guess I had to weigh up a few things, but at the end of the day I was really enjoying the rugby.

"There is still a lot more improvement and things I need to tick off in rugby and that's the reason I have decided to go on for another two years.

"If I am playing good rugby two years down the track, hopefully I can be a part of (the World Cup)."

Folau will re-join the Wallabies squad on Sunday in preparation for next weekend's Test with South Africa in Brisbane.

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