Beale reveals secret behind Wallabies' new edge
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Shaun Berne’s influence as Wallabies attack coach blossomed in Perth and Kurtley Beale thinks their all-encompassing approach to running rugby will only be better at the World Cup.
Fullback Beale believes Australia’s attacking game has taken on a new lease of life under Berne, who replaced Stephen Larkham in the only change to the coaching structure after the miserable returns of 2018.
After spluttering somewhat last month in a loss to South Africa and a narrow win over Argentina, the Wallabies ran amok in last Saturday’s 21-point Bledisloe Cup triumph, succeeding spectacularly with a no-kicking approach that established a mortgage on possession and ultimately wore the All Blacks out.
Their six tries and 47 points posted were both Wallabies records in 165 trans-Tasman Tests dating back to 1903.
Beale had nothing but praise for Berne and hopes they can manipulate the world champions again in the Cup decider at Eden Park on Saturday.
Beale missed out on playing alongside the crafty Berne at the Waratahs by one season when the latter took his playing career to Europe in 2007.
The 40-year-old had nous back then for unlocking defences but Beale said he’d clearly honed his craft and learned how to get the most out of strike weapon players.
“Berney’s been great for us in the backline and for the whole side in attack, he’s brought a new edge to the game, a different approach, which is always refreshing,” Beale said.
“He’s allowing the guys to go out there and be themselves and, I think, providing a structure that allows us to do that.”
“He’s brought different dynamics to how we want to play the game.”
It was feared Israel Folau’s absence would rob the Wallabies of their only genuine attacking match-winner.
Instead the attack load is being shared, with Beale regarding the refined skills of recalled pair Christian Lealiifano and James O’Connor as the perfect foil for his own running game and the power of inside centre Samu Kerevi.
Flyhalf Lealiifano and outside centre O’Connor now have the inside running for World Cup starting berths ahead of more established pair Bernard Foley and Tevita Kuridrani.
“They’re two players with a lot of unpredictability about their game and they certainly brought that at the weekend,” Beale said.
“It’s great to have players with that type of ammunition, creativity is very important at Test match level.”
Beale believed O’Connor would thrive under Berne’s mantra to give players a licence to try something.
The old version of O’Connor may have taken such a message too far and errors would have resulted.
Beale believes the reformed match-winner proved that he has developed a waiting game.
“The thing I felt out there was just his calmness,” Beale said.
“His ability to strike at any given second is pretty impressive as well so I think his time away brought that level of calmness about him, and that definitely rubs off on the other guys around him.”
The Wallabies will take on the All Blacks at Eden Park, Auckland – a place where securing a win has never been easy.
“It’s always a huge challenge for any team going to Auckland. For the Wallabies, it’s the pinnacle of Test matches, I think,” Beale said.
“It’s one of the toughest environments to play at but there’s a lot of guys who have experienced that and we understand that we’ve got to go to an extra level going into the weekend and it’s an exciting challenge for everyone.”