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Super Rugby
Beale integral part of Waratahs success
Richard Kelly
April 3, 2014
Kurtley Beale beats the defence to score a try, New South Wales Waratahs v Western Force, Super Rugby, Round Two, Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Sunday, February 23
Folau missed most by Beale during loss to Sharks © Getty Images

Given a new lease of life at the Waratahs this season, Kurtley Beale has already played more Super Rugby games in 2014 than he could manage with the Rebels last term. The diminutive back, who looks set for a prolonged run as an inside centre after finding himself posted right across the backline in recent seasons, should be an integral part of any Waratahs success this season as they battle it out in a wide open Australia conference.

So far in 2014, we have seen an indifferent Waratahs side. They have been breath-taking at times, of course Israel Folau grabbing the headlines. However, they wilted in South Africa against the Sharks and were also outsmarted in Canberra by the Brumbies. The Sydney side of course missed Folau against the Sharks but it could be said that nobody missed the full-back more than the Tahs' No.12.

Beale was heavily involved in the match in South Africa, making an impressive 15 carries for an even more impressive total of 53 metres, despite making no clean breaks. He got his hands on the ball more often than on any other occasion this season, making 25 passes, offloading twice and kicking in general play on three occasions. Only once has Beale made more metres in a match this season and that was in a heavy win against his former club in their previous outing (17 carries for 55 metres).

Kurtley Beale's stats reveal that he and Israel Folau are a star duo for the Waratahs ©

Despite Beale putting in an honourable and brave shift against the Sharks, he was largely kept at bay. Or rather as a pivot, despite trying to bring others into play there was little opportunity for Beale to release his fellow backs against the aggressive South Africans who won twice as many turnovers (18) as the visitors (9) on the day. The question begs whether Folau had been playing, would the Tahs' possession have counted for more than just the one try? Perhaps this will be a question answered as the year drags on. With Beale spraying the ball around so often and Adam Ashley-Cooper (five defenders beaten) causing a ruckus in midfield there could have been more openings for Folau's understudy Jonno Lance, who unfortunately did not make a lasting impression on the day.

That said, without Folau in their ranks, the onus to break the line should be left with his Wallabies backline teammates. One criticism of Beale from the weekend could perhaps be his lack of effect when taking the ball into contact, but for a couple of offloads. As shown against the Rebels, he can be irresistible with ball in hand and if presented with quality ball, he is more than capable of scoring or creating a try.

The key to any Waratahs success this season should be their link-ups between their big name stars and this was certainly missing in their two defeats thus far this season.

With the likes of Bernard Foley, Ashley-Cooper and Israel Folau in their ranks, it definitely makes sense for Michael Cheika to continue with Beale at inside centre. A promising start so far may have been dampened in South Africa but when compared to his form at the Rebels last year, it's hard to argue that Beale is not at home when playing off an out-half.

Despite playing in some tight games when the Rebels managed to score points last year, Beale's creativity this year is certainly being utilised to the full by his teammate, he already has four more assists than he did in 2013. If Beale can activate his offloading talents when in the No.12 jersey as well, the Waratahs could well outscore a majority of their opponents this year.

Follow @OptaJonny, the official Twitter page for Opta's coverage of rugby union and rugby league, and @OptaJason, the official Twitter page for Opta Sports' coverage of sport in Australia and New Zealand.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd with Opta Sports

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