Sydney – Kurtley Beale will make his Wallabies comeback in this weekend's final Test against Wales in Sydney, despite facing a police charge for assault.
The 23-year-old missed the first two Test wins against the Six Nations champions with a shoulder injury and during that time got into trouble over an alleged altercation with security guards at a Brisbane pub.
Despite this, he was selected Tuesday after the Australian Rugby Union said it had put on hold its own disciplinary process until the police matter was resolved.
Beale, who has not played since Australia's victory over Wales in the bronze medal playoff at last year's World Cup, will slot in at fullback and push Adam Ashley-Cooper to the wing.
Coach Robbie Deans said Beale had proved on the training field that he was ready for a recall.
“It has been frustrating for Kurtley and he's obviously had some off-field challenges to deal with as well,” said Deans.
“But it was important for all concerned that he had full confidence in his shoulder before we looked at re-introducing him to the Test arena.”
Beale said he was confident his shoulder would hold up.
“It's obviously been a while now ... I'm just raring to go,” said Beale, who refused to take questions on the alleged assault which occurred when he was out with fellow Wallaby Quade Cooper. No charges have been laid against Cooper.
“I think the medical staff have done a really good job ... they've respected me and looked towards the future in protecting me and thought having that extra week would have me in better stead going into the game,” added Beale.
“I'm just very happy to be a part of it and I'm very grateful for another opportunity this weekend.”
Ashley-Cooper takes Cooper Vuna's place on the wing while NSW Waratahs giant Sitaleki Timani has been recalled to the starting second-row, with Rob Simmons moving to the bench.
Despite retaining the James Bevan Trophy for a third time in succession following last weekend's 25-23 win in Melbourne, Deans insisted the changes were not cosmetic, but designed to strengthen his team.
“Wales are a very good side. They give you nothing and they take their scoring chances. They showed that in the Six Nations and they showed it again last weekend,” Deans said.
“Both games in the series to date have been very close, there's no reason to suggest that Saturday afternoon will be any different.”
Given that Wales has won just once in Australia – 42 years ago – Deans said the visitors would be motivated even though the series was now lost.
“If anything, they will be even more dangerous because the circumstance will unshackle them,” he said.
“While they can no longer win the series, they can still achieve something only one other Welsh team has ever achieved by winning in Australia.
“And they have that opportunity in front of them with no real downside Ä nothing to fear so to speak, as the series is beyond them.”
Australia (15 to 1): Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes, Will Genia, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock (capt), Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, Sitaleki Timani, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota Nau, Benn Robinson.
Replacements: Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Rob Simmons, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Nic White, Anthony Faingaa. – Sapa-AFP