CAPE TOWN – So Kurtley Beale believes the Waratahs can “shock the competition” this Super Rugby season. But if you look at their Super Rugby run last year, can Beale’s views be considered realistic or just wishful thinking?
The Australian team that managed only four wins in 15 games last season and found themselves in 16th spot in a then-18 team competition will kick-off their 2018 campaign against the Stormers on Saturday.
Surely it should be the easiest of the Stormers’ games on their three-match tour to Australasia, seeing that they face the Crusaders and the Highlanders after their fixture in Sydney? I guess. But the Stormers still need to take heed of Beale’s excitement about what his team can achieve this season.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, the man who can create play from anywhere just as easily (and seemingly comfortably) as he can pose for a picture with Prince Harry in nothing but briefs and holding a beer, said: “There was a lot of experience back then in the pack and backs but if everyone can take all their experience and be on the same page, then we’ll give ourselves a good chance.”
“Skilfully, we can shock the competition. It’s a matter of everyone buying into the same thing and making sure everyone is on the same page. If that occurs, we’ll give ourselves a really good opportunity of success.
Beale seems pretty confident the Waratahs can drastically turn things around, and after missing out on Super Rugby action last year due to his time with Wasps, the 29-year-old is keen to flourish with his mates during the “exciting times’ that await them.
“We have a lot of young guys coming through with a lot of huge potential. It’s exciting times. I love playing in the sky blue jersey and it’s created a lot of memories. It only fits best to come back and do as much as I can for the club and try and make them one of the main teams of the competition.”
That’s some very optimistic thinking by the Wallabies playmaker, very optimistic indeed. But it certainly says enough for us to assume the 2014 champions will be fired up against the South Africans.
Now the Stormers should know pretty well that no team in the competition can be underestimated, and following their season-opener against the Jaguares at Newlands - a home performance that was far from perfect - I can’t exactly see them heading into the event at the Sydney Football Stadium sky-high on confidence.
And yes, the ‘Tahs 2017 season might have been a disaster, but let’s not forget about the men that could be running out onto the pitch for them on Saturday - the likes of Michael Hooper, Reds recruit Rob Simmons, Israel Folau and human steam train Taqele Naiyaravoro. And, of course, if the ‘Tahs possible 10-12-15 combo of Foley, Beale and Folau get it right, it could be a tougher-than-expected afternoon.
Besides, as they say - beware the wounded animal.
Aside from the Sunwolves and the Rebels, no other team emerged with from the 2017 season with more bruises than the Waratahs.
They have nothing to lose, they can certainly be seen as the underdogs going into this match, and that can make them dangerous.
Beale is desperate to taste some success this season, and if that kind of enthusiasm comes from such a key figure in the squad, I don’t see how it cannot spread throughout the team.
So again, Stormers, beware.