People on Kurtley Beale’s side of the table are furious the precise details of the troubled player’s undertakings to the ARU were made public on Thursday, and that his Rebels teammates had not done more to support him on Saturday night. The Rebels and ARU released a broadly worded statement referring to a breach of ”behavioural guidelines” but within minutes it was being reported that Beale’s slip was over alcohol: that he had agreed not to drink but had done so in the presence of his teammates. The Rebels were careful not to go into who was and was not aware of Beale’s decision-making process after the Storm NRL game at AAMI Park but, notwithstanding valid points about personal responsibility, the incident raises further questions about the quality of leadership at the club. Beale’s future at the Rebels, already in serious doubt due to overtures from the Waratahs, now looks terminal.Horne dilemma
Will Rob Horne be at the Waratahs next season? The Test centre, who this year transitioned to No.12 for the Super Rugby side, is one of the only remaining starting back-line players yet to lock in his future in NSW or elsewhere.
Fellow Test-capped Waratah Adam Ashley-Cooper has re-signed, Drew Mitchell and Berrick Barnes are set to move offshore, Cam Crawford is still on contract, Israel Folau is a work in progress, and it is expected that Peter Betham, Bernard Foley and Brendan McKibbin will all recommit to coach Michael Cheika’s squad in the coming weeks.
But there is less certainty as to Horne. The recent defection to NSW of Reds playmaker Jono Lance adds further intrigue, since there is speculation Cheika wants a kicker at inside-centre.
The salary cap will also play a part, particularly if NSW can keep Folau and sign Beale. Accommodating both those players, plus Ashley-Cooper and the likes of Wycliff Palu, Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Sekope Kepu, will be a costly exercise.
In the course of Cheika’s book-balancing, a player such as Horne and even Lachie Turner might be asked to take a pay cut. It is also worth noting that Horne is highly regarded by his former coach Michael Foley, who has been recruiting his socks off at the Force.In a bind
It is becoming hard to keep up. From ”crouch, touch, pause, engage” to ”crouch, touch, set”, the International Rugby Board council has changed the scrum engagement call once more to ”crouch, bind, set” for a global trial set to start next season in both hemispheres.
In a move designed to enhance player welfare by reducing impact on engagement by up to 25 per cent at elite level (that’s the IRB’s figure), props will be expected to bind on to, instead of simply touching, their opponent, after the referee has called ”bind”. The front rows will maintain the bind until the referee calls ”set”, at which point the packs engage.
The Kiwis are jumping in early, trialling the change in this year’s ITM Cup before the Super season kicks off next year, while there is also a plan to use it in this year’s Rugby Championship.
The IRB hopes the move, which was used during the recent Pacific Rugby Cup, will lead to a more stable platform and fewer unpopular resets.