All Blacks fear the Beale factor
Wallabies star Kurtley Beale has got the same X-factor as Israel Folau and will pose a similar threat in Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup clash in Perth, according to All Blacks back Ben Smith.
Folau’s messy exit from the Wallabies left Australia with a massive hole to fill at fullback.
Tom Banks was solid in the 35-17 loss to the Springboks in South Africa last month, but it was Beale’s performance in the No.15 jersey a week later that really caught the eye of the All Blacks.
Beale is expected to retain the role at fullback for Saturday’s clash in Perth and Smith said his team were aware of the danger the 30-year-old presents.
“He [Folau] is a world-class player, but Kurtley Beale has got that same X-factor, and he’s a quality player too,” Smith said.
“Kurtley Beale is pretty dangerous. He has a good sidestep.”
The Wallabies haven’t held the Bledisloe Cup since 2002, but Smith doesn’t think the All Blacks hold a psychological edge over Australia.
“The past doesn’t matter,” he said.
“Whoever turns up on Saturday and plays the best footy will give themselves the best chance to get the Bledisloe.”
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All Blacks coach Steve Hansen experimented heavily with his squad in the 20-16 win over Argentina and 16-all draw with South Africa.
But he’s promised to unleash a full-strength side in Perth as the team ramps up preparations for the upcoming World Cup.
Hansen is expected to persist with flyhalf Beauden Barrett at fullback, with Richie Mo’unga set to retain the No.10 jersey to give the All Blacks a dual playmaking option.