Wallabies captain Michael Hooper backs Beale
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Wallabies captain Michael Hooper says backline star Kurtley Beale shouldn’t be sacked over his spat with a team official and players will express candid views on the subject at an “honesty session” as early as Sunday.
Hooper said the Australian team is “tight” ahead of next weekend’s Bledisloe Cup test against New Zealand and he supports coach Ewen McKenzie who has been increasingly drawn into controversy over the resignation of team business manager Di Patston.
Patston quit her role Saturday while Beale faces a judicial process which could end his international career.
Hooper said an honesty session “is worth doing as a playing group. We need to be honest with each other and that allows for on-field harmony. Once everyone is transparent then you can move forward.”
Beale faces two investigations into misbehavior towards Patston. He is alleged to have had a heated argument with the former business manager on a team flight between South Africa and Argentina earlier this month and to have circulated an offensive text message about her in June.
Wallabies players have rallied behind Beale and, asked Sunday whether the player should be sacked, Hooper said “no....(but) with that stuff it is out of our hands.”
“I hope KB stays in rugby union and Australian Rugby Union,” Hooper said. “We are backing Kurtley. I enjoy having him around the team and he is quality on the field.”
Hooper said Beale, who has been stood down while under investigation, was “a bit rattled” by events.
“KB has a chance to move away from it this week, distance himself from it,” he said. “Speaking to the boys who have spoken to KB he is a bit rattled but he’s alright and understands the process in play at the moment.”
McKenzie was forced to deny at a news conference on Thursday that he has been in an intimate relationship with Patston. News reports in Australia have hinted at a split between McKenzie and his players, who have supported Beale, but Hooper said he backed the coach as “we back everyone who is in the squad.”
“And you have got to because we are about winning, and we need to get back to winning,” he said. “I think it is a blessing in disguise that a lot of it was last week so we are able to focus on the footy stuff.
“At the end of the day we want to play rugby so it is not hard putting that stuff at the back of your mind.”