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Beale has Mowen's backing

Ben Mowen insists Australia would happily turn to Kurtley Beale once more if a match-winning kick materialised in the remaining two Tests against the British and Irish Lions.

Beale missed two late penalties - the second was the game's last act - to enable the tourists to draw first blood in the series with a 23-21 victory in Brisbane. Two earlier kicks had sailed over and in open play Beale was outstanding, piercing the Lions' defence on several occasions to argue his case for selection at fly-half in Saturday's second Test.

The troubled 24-year-old has returned from treatment for alcohol-related problems, but Mowen insists his resilience was demonstrated in the aftermath of the Wallabies' agonising defeat. "We're extremely proud of what Kurtley's done," said Mowen, the Brumbies flanker who enjoyed a superb Test debut at Suncorp Stadium.

"He's had to make a lot of hard decisions over the last couple of months and own up to those decisions very publicly, which has probably been the biggest challenge. But the way he's come back from those situations has been amazing. He hadn't played a whole lot of rugby when he took to the field on Saturday.

"He'd done some preparation by himself and showed up in camp in top nick. You can't come on and perform in the way he did unless your mind is in the right place and your body is right. With only his second or third touch of the ball, he made a 40-metre break and made some key kicks.

"He was unlucky with the last kick, but if you're in the same situation again you'd definitely throw him the ball because he's a proven performer. We were only in that position to win because he had kicked one earlier.

"After the game he was very disappointed, but he's a very strong bloke mentally and he doesn't get enough credit for that. We rallied around him quickly.

"He's a tough bloke and those are the guys you want to hand the ball to every time because more often than not they give you the result."

Australia name their team on Thursday morning and Beale, who came on as a 39th-minute replacement for the concussed Berrick Barnes, will start at either full-back or fly-half.

Pat McCabe, the replacement centre who was himself stretchered off with a fractured neck, has been sidelined for the rest of the year, but the injury is not thought to be career-threatening. The hard-running 25-year-old had already been ruled out of the remaining two games of the series.


From Belfast Telegraph