Beale shows off ‘budgie smugglers’ to Duke
Kurtley Beale had quite the afternoon in Cardiff on Saturday. First, there was his brazen mugging of Steff Evans to score Australia’s fourth try, which Wales coach Warren Gatland believes decided the contest. Then, there was his comical attempt at scrummaging while flanker Michael Hooper was in the sin-bin that may have even put Jonny May’s efforts against Argentina last year to shame.
But for sheer bravado both acts were trumped by his encounter with the Duke of Cambridge. Royalty meeting rugby players is nothing new. Usually, there is a degree of decorum and ceremony. That, however, is on royal turf. On Saturday night, the Duke strode into the Australian changing room at the Principality Stadium and there he met Beale, fresh from an ice bath, wearing nothing but a big smile and his lucky budgie smugglers.
Apparently, Buckingham Palace officials were scrambling to seek approval of the dozens of selfies taken with the Duke afterwards, but by then Beale had already posted the image on Instagram, which as of yesterday afternoon had received more than 17,000 likes.
“It was pretty lucky,” Beale said, “He came in the sheds and said g’day to the boys, which was cool. First time I’ve met him. He is a really good guy, down to earth. He threw a few jokes around with Bernard [Foley] and I, saying ‘who had the better tache?’ It was good fun and it was nice to meet him.
“I love playing in my budgie smugglers, so they were the last things that I was wearing. I just happened to be taking it easy and it was pretty good to have a yarn with him in the sheds. I asked him if he wanted my ones that I had on. I’m sure we’ll be able to organise a pair if he wanted some for Christmas.”
It is Beale’s unpredictability on the pitch that Eddie Jones, the England head coach, was more concerned about yesterday. The 28-year-old has been deployed all over the back line during his career, but on this tour has been moved to full-back to accommodate the absence of the rested Israel Folau.
The number on his back only applies the loosest of constraints to Beale’s natural instincts, with coach Michael Cheika giving him licence to create chaos wherever he sees fit.
“I’m really enjoying the role,” Beale said. “It’s a bit of a roving role and I’ll play wherever the coaches see fit. As a back line, we all have a good understanding of what is required in certain positions. Sometimes you might have to fill in for someone else and it’s great we have that understanding of each other.”
It may not be a coincidence that Beale missed all four of Australia’s defeats against England in 2016. The 28-year-old spent last season at Wasps, where he gained a greater appreciation of the role that the setpiece plays within English rugby.
“I guess in the Premiership there is a huge focus around going forwards and being physical up front to lay that platform for your backs,” Beale said. “That’s something we’ll be expecting at the weekend.”
Royal flush: Kurtley Beale described the Duke of Cambridge as ‘good fun’