Kurtley Beale: I still have more to give Australian rugby

Waratahs fullback Kurtley Beale is weighing up his future and may yet head overseas later this year Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Kurtley Beale insists he still has more to give Australian rugby as he prepares to equal Benn Robinson's record for the most Super Rugby games by a Waratahs player, and the competition for the Wallabies fullback spot hots up.

Beale will equal Robinson's NSW record of 148 Super Rugby games when the Waratahs play the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday. After spending time at the Rebels as well as 18 months abroad at English club Wasps, Beale will equal the milestone 13 years after he first debuted in the sky blue jersey.

"Obviously [a] proud milestone, it's a major achievement," Beale said. "As a professional rugby player, you dream of playing at the top level for as long as you can and it's been an amazing journey so far and I'm just very grateful to be able to achieve such a special milestone.

"There [have] been many special games that you've been a part of and it kind of it just takes you away from what you're actually trying to do. I guess you're extremely proud to be still doing it and [I] still feel like the body's going well, still feel like I've got a bit more to give to the game."

There have been plenty of ups and downs along the way, but on his day Beale remains one of the most dangerous attacking players in Australian rugby. But with a new era set to begin at the Wallabies and Beale reportedly weighing up a move overseas, his Test future is anything but guaranteed.

One prominent rugby reporter this week rated Beale as the fourth best fullback option for new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie right now, saying each of the Brumbies' Tom Banks, Rebels' Dane Haylett-Petty and Reds youngster Jock Campbell were all in vastly superior form this season.

Sunday's match-up against Banks would therefore seem to have arrived at just the right moment for Beale, with Banks having already delivered some sparkling attacking play after being one of the hard-luck stories of Michael Cheika's World Cup squad.

The biggest weakness in Beale's game this season has been his handling, the Waratahs fullback committing seven handling errors, compared with Campbell [4] and Banks and Haylett-Petty [two apiece].

"I've obviously put a lot of expectation on myself to be playing at a level that I'm happy (with)," Beale said of his own form. "At the moment, I'm kind of finding it a little bit tough to try and pop in and pop out at certain plays and get my hands on the ball at the right time.

"Obviously there's some new structures set in place and new ways to play the game, and I don't think I'm far off [building] combinations with certain players around me.

"We've got some great young players who have so much enthusiasm and energy on the ball and it's a matter of how I can combine and pick my moments to go with them and hold back; trying not to over play but also not to under play and that's where I'm really challenging myself at the moment.

"But I feel like I'm not far away from having a bigger impact there and that's another part of my drivers to really make sure that I'm making the most of opportunities whilst I have them."

Asked to rate his long-time teammate's performances this year, flanker Michael Hooper agreed the Waratahs were still adapt to some new structures under coach Rob Penney. The former NSW skipper was adamant however that Beale was not down on confidence.

"Kurtley's beaming confidence, I'd say it's finding ourselves in the right parts of the field and having that really clear direction of what we want as a whole team, from staff and players," Hooper said.

"That's why a lot of the time we see errors, any team, not just us, is you're second guessing. Sometimes your mind is in two places as opposed to being dead set on a job, dead set on what you have to do.

"We haven't had that in parts, that's why sometimes it might look like lazy intent, I don't think that's it, this team is fit and definitely hungry. But sometimes just in two minds, and that can sometimes look not great."

It may be that Rennie opts to head in a new direction and entrusts the Wallabies No. 15 jersey to either Banks or Haylett-Petty later this year, or even throws Campbell into the deep end with an eye on the Wallabies' long-term future.

That decision may yet be influenced by whether or not Beale's next contract move takes him overseas, although his 92 caps are more than enough to make him available under the current Giteau Law framework.

"Yeah I'm not sure yet, but if it is it's something that I'll be working hard to get some positive results here and in the country," Beale replied when asked whether this would be his last Super Rugby season.

"For me, it's really challenging at the moment and that's what's getting me up in the morning each day to make sure that I'm ready and prepared and giving as much energy on the field as I can try to impact the guys around me and the way we want to go to make it a proud season that we call be proud of."

There are still 12 rounds of the Super Rugby season in which Beale - and the Waratahs -- can turn his form around, starting with a strong showing against Banks and the Brumbies on Sunday afternoon.

"I think every derby game you want to be up there in the face of your opposite number," Beale said. "You want to put your best foot forward for the team first and foremost, but secondly, it does become personal no doubt.

"I know Banksy has already spoke about the opportunity and he's up for the clash and no doubt from 1-15 boys will be into it and I think that's what these derby games are great for and bringing the best out of each individual and hopefully the team.

"So hopefully we can use this game as a bit of a catalyst to really re-boost our season and make sure that we're consistently performing and make sure that we're proud of those performances."