Gifted back Kurtley Beale concedes it will be very difficult for him to regain a starting spot in the Wallabies’ side for the World Cup, but is excited by that challenge.
Beale, 26, has signed a new two-year deal with the Australian Rugby Union and the NSW Waratahs.
He was Australia’s first-choice fullback at the last World Cup, but Israel Folau has had an ironclad grip on that position for the past two years.
It’s been a year since Beale last started a Test, playing successive Bledisloe Cup matches at five-eighth.
He can also play in the centres and on the wing and his past eight appearances have been off the bench.
With Australia’s World Cup opener against Fiji in Cardiff less than a month away, Beale knows he has an uphill battle to force his way into the run-on side.
“It’s obviously going to be very difficult to be able to break (into the) first XV, but that’s the exciting bit – that’s the challenge I love,” Beale said.
“Having a lot of guys putting their hands up for certain positions is only going to bring the standard of play up a notch and that’s what we want.
“We want to bring the best out of each other and, no doubt, I’ll be knocking on the door of those positions throughout the next couple of months.”
Although he has struggled for opportunities on the pitch, it’s been a much better year off the field for Beale, who has been embroiled in several behavioural and disciplinary issues in past seasons.
“Obviously, there have been some ups and downs throughout my career, but you’ve got to move on and try and learn from your mistakes,” Beale said.
He has been linked to rugby league in the past, revealing there had been interest from that sector again along with overseas rugby clubs.
Beale said he had thought about exploring the possibility of taking an overseas sabbatical but felt it was very important for him to commit to NSW and Australian rugby.
Excited by winning a Super Rugby title with NSW last year and by the talent at the Waratahs and Wallabies, Beale opted to stay put.
“I still feel like I’ve got a lot to add to Australian rugby and a lot of improvement in my game, which I think is very exciting,” Beale said.
“I’m really enjoying my rugby union and a big part of that is the playing group.
“We’ve got a really good, talented group of guys right now and – to be a part of that and to be in the mix of that group – is really special, so I’m sure there’s going to be some big years ahead.”