Wallabies wary of wounded Welsh
KURTLEY Beale is certain the deep hurt felt by the Wallabies when constantly crushed by the All Blacks has them on guard for the fire the Welsh will throw at snapping their own nightmare in Cardiff this weekend.
If there is one figure who can sentence the Welsh to a 13th straight Test defeat when playing the Wallabies it is the in-form Beale who was the golden thread through last Saturday's 63-30 thrashing of Japan in Yokohama.
He may have worn the No. 15 of fullback but bobbing into first receiver numerous times, ahead of composed first-time Test five-eighth Reece Hodge, worked extremely well to unlock some of the team's best attack.
Appearing as a support runner to pop a try-making off-load to Samu Kerevi or stabbing a little chip kick ahead for winger Marika Koroibete were also the ad lib moments that the Wallabies need to break open a tighter Test against the Welsh early on Sunday morning (AEDT).
Snapping a seven-Test losing streak against the All Blacks in Brisbane last month was dam-bursting so Beale knows how intense the desire must be inside Welsh regulars like Toby Faletau who has lost seven times to the Wallabies.
"It always hurts but look at our record against the All Blacks up until we broke it and it was one of the best feelings ever," Beale said.
"That was huge relief.
"Obviously, flipping it on the other side we know that feeling so it gives us a bit of a background how the Welsh will be feeling leading into this game.
"It's going to put extra focus on our preparation so we get the job done."
Beale broke Welsh hearts at Millennium Stadium in 2012 when he dived over with a gleeful mid-air grin in the closing moments to steal a 14-12 win.
"You know it is going to be a confrontation against Wales. In the past we have always backed ourselves to get them in the final minutes and that's the same mindset we've been taking through The Rugby Championship (with extra confidence)," Beale said.
With Bernard Foley set to return to five-eighth in Cardiff after losing 3kg from a fever and gastro bug, coach Michael Cheika could keep Beale's dynamism at fullback to best deal with the absence of Israel Folau.
That would mean deciding on inside centre between Karmichael Hunt, who is overcoming a stiff neck, and Samu Kerevi, a vibrant two-try force against Japan.
Hodge will be back on the wing after a strong audition for more exposure at No. 10 which he'll relish whenever it comes.
"I think so. I quite enjoyed it because you get your hands on the ball a bit more than out on the wing," Hodge said.
"I did enjoy being amongst the action. There are probably a few things to work on if I had another shot because there were a few patches I didn't control as well as I would have liked."
Hodge is not one to blow his own trumpet even after a perfect nine-from-nine goalkicking record that put some pressure on Foley after his scratchy one-from-four effort in the last Bledisloe Cup Test.
"It was good to get a few over and that there were a few close to the posts," Hodge said.
"I'm happy to give it back to him if he's back in, he's the incumbent, he's in great form with his kicking and I'm sure he'll do a great job if he's playing."