KURTLEY Beale is eager to prove a point against the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday, but it has nothing to do with getting one over the team which sacked him.
Beale will return from a shoulder reconstruction in the pre-season trial in Albury as he looks to put a forgettable 2013 behind him.
With superstar Israel Folau all but guaranteed to line up at fullback for the NSW Waratahs in round one, Beale and Bernard Foley have been left to fight it out for five-eighth.
Beale, 25, is desperate to secure the Waratahs’ No. 10 jersey in the face of fierce competition from fellow Wallaby Foley, but faces a stern test from the Rebels.
The playmaker will be putting his shoulder through its paces for the first time since last year’s surgery against a team which could be excused for wanting to sit him on his backside.
After his 2013 season was marred by injury and regrettable off-field incidents, Beale has a symbolic chance to wipe the slate clean in his return for NSW against the Rebels — and he’s glad to be knocking the match-up on the head in the pre-season.
Beale declared “I feel good about myself now” and said he was hungry to set a marker against his former teammates.
“I think the sooner the better (for facing the Rebels),” he said.
“I feel confident in myself, physically I feel stronger, mentally I feel fresh and I’m looking forward to a big one.
“I don’t have any hostility towards my ex-teammates — they were a great club and a very young team, but my focus is purely on the Waratahs.
“I’ve got a role to play here and a big role — if I don’t get that right, there are a lot of other players there knocking on the door to take my position.”
Beale has been in full contact at training for three weeks and any mental doubts over his shoulder have been removed.
“I had some big boys running at me a couple of times and put myself in some positions where it was pretty vulnerable. I feel I’ve done all the hard work to go out there and play the game,” he said.
“I’m putting my foot forward for fly-half. Izzy had a stellar year at fullback.”
Foley debuted in Beale’s last game for NSW before he defected to the Rebels, and said he was also up for the No. 10 challenge.
“It’s exciting. Healthy competition should bring the best out of you,” he said.
“Hopefully, it will be a positive going forward, and both of us can contribute.”