Kurtley Beale says Wallabies united after discussing Israel Folau saga

Rugby

Kurtley Beale has dismissed talk of division within the Wallabies playing ranks, insisting the entire squad of Rugby World Cup hopefuls were happy campers.

Beale on Wednesday revealed fallout from Israel Folau’s sacking was formally addressed when coach Michael Cheika assembled a 41-man train-on squad in Brisbane at the start of the week.

There had been concerns that Folau’s contract termination for his controversial social media posts could drive a wedge between the Wallabies, with the squad featuring a large number of fellow Pacific Islanders with strong Christian beliefs like Folau.

But Beale saw no such discontent.

“No, everyone was pretty good,” he said.

“Obviously there’s a lot of speculation around that stuff, but I think those camps are for individuals to step up to make sure we’re all committing to the cause and making sure they’re getting their own backyard sorted so when selection times come around they’re ready to pounce – and there was no sign of that at all.

“It was all positive and I think just a lot of excitement for what we have to come.”

Beale said it was important the Wallabies had the chance to put the Folau issue to bed with the World Cup less than four months away.

“That was one of the main things we did in small groups and we did touch on it. Guys let it out and then we got on with the camp,” he said.

“It’s obviously an issue that needed to be addressed and the coaches gave the players an opportunity to speak about it, if they wanted to speak about it, and after those meetings everyone was down to business.

“It’s a bit sad obviously that Izzy’s not going to be in the game anymore, but it’s important that we all keep moving forward now.”

Folau is considering taking his sacking to the courts and on Monday declared in a statement that he still has “plenty of rugby left in me”.

Beale hopes the three-time John Eales Medallist is able to continue playing, though his options appear limited.

“I’d like to see him out on the footy field again. That’s where we’ve made some special memories over the years and hopefully (we) see him out there doing what he loves,” Beale said.

“He’s always got my full support.”

Asked if he would have him back as a teammate, Beale, who has played alongside the code-hopper for the NSW Waratahs and Wallabies since 2013, said: “Yeah if we .. yeah, yeah. Of course. I mean, on the field he was just unbelievable.

“The impact he had and the presence he had on the field was immense and it lifted everyone in the group.

“He’s an amazing talent and he will be missed.”

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