Scotland v Australia: Kurtley Beale on hatching plans to stop ‘miracle 10’ Finn Russell, the man who helped lure him to Racing 92

Finn Russell isn’t short of admirers and the Scotland stand-off can count Kurtley Beale in his fanclub.

Kurtley Beale, right, with Andrew Kellaway during an Australia training session at Peffermill in Edinburgh ahead of Sunday's match with Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Kurtley Beale, right, with Andrew Kellaway during an Australia training session at Peffermill in Edinburgh ahead of Sunday's match with Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The Aussie great cites Russell as one of the chief reasons he joined Racing 92 and believes the pair are on the same wavelength when it comes to rugby philosophies.

Both put a premium on attacking flair and Beale calls the fly-half “the miracle 10” for his role in the dismantling of the Wallabies back in 2017.

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If selected, they will face each other again on Sunday as Australia visit Edinburgh in what is shaping up to be one of the Tests of the autumn.

Beale last played for Australia in the 2019 World Cup quarter-final defeat by England in Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images,)

Murrayfield has long been sold out for the return of the Wallabies and Dave Rennie’s side arrive in sparkling form. A winning run which has seen them defeat South Africa (twice), Argentina (twice) and Japan will be on the line as the tourists begin what for them is a spring tour which also takes in games against England and Wales.

While results have been exemplary, off-field machinations have caused friction. The loss of three key players to the squad – Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon – has led to tensions in the camp.

The trio have returned to their clubs in Japan rather than tour Britain despite answering coach Dave Rennie’s SOS to play in the final four rounds of the Rugby Championship.

Cooper, Kerevi and McMahon are not obliged to play for the Wallabies as their contracts are not held by Rugby Australia (RA) and Scott Johnson, Scotland’s former director of rugby who now holds the same position at RA, has come under the microscope for his part in the saga.

Finn Russell tries to stop Kurtley Beale during the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Australia and Scotland at Twickenham. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Bringing the overseas players back into the international fold required a degree of diplomacy but Johnson has been accused of marginalising their agents which didn’t help the national side’s cause as Cooper, Kerevi and McMahon opted to put club before country.

Rennie is trying to move on and says he wants only “guys that are desperate to be Wallabies”. Beale certainly seems to fit the bill. The sometimes controversial figure said all the right things yesterday as he faced the press after more than two years away from international rugby.

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He says he’s “super stoked” to be back and has designs on the No 15 jersey despite recent appearances at centre for Racing. He also dismissed the notion that his move to France after the 2019 World Cup signalled the end of his international ambitions.

Russell takes on Beale during Scotland's record 53-24 win over Australia in 2017. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

“I still felt that I could give something,” said Beale. “I’m still growing in the game. Playing at Racing, they are a great rugby club and I'm surrounded by some really good players, international players, so my hunger is still there to keep growing as a player and to keep pushing myself against the best.

“With the World Cup in France in 2023, it is still a goal of mine and something I want to be a part of.”

Beale says Russell is a catalyst for him at Racing and his presence at the club helped lure him to Paris.

“I guess before signing to Racing he was probably a key ingredient for me to go there,” said Beale. “I knew that they would play an attacking style and I didn’t really have to change too much in the way I approached my rugby so he definitely made it easier.

Kurtley Beale and Finn Russell on the red carpet for a photocall ahead of the draw for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, in Paris. Beale has ambitions to play in the tournament. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

“He’s obviously a world class 10 with his vision in the game and he has a real good positive influence on the guys around him in the way they play the game.

“He’s a great guy. He’s definitely helped me settle in, being one of the foreigners at the club, so it’s going to be an interesting week!

“The Scots are a class team – on their day they’re world-beaters. They’ve got some class, danger men – Ali Price, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg. They’ve just come off the Lions tour and had a positive impact there on that group, so no doubt they’ll be running the show on the weekend and trying to retain the cup that’s played between both countries.”

The trophy Beale refers to is the Hopetoun Cup, a crystal bauble that has been contested by the two teams since 1998. Gregor Townsend’s side are the holders after the extraordinary 53-24 victory in 2017, a match in which Scotland scored eight tries, seven of which came after the dismissal of Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu for a dangerous barge on Hamish Watson just before half-time.

Beale also touched down that day but was unable to stop the Scots racking up a record points tally and margin of victory over their old adversaries.

“You never like losing by a big margin,” said the full-back. “I thought we were right in that game up until maybe the 60th minute, and I remember Kepu got a red card so we were down to 14 men.

“It’s always difficult playing down a man at international level, especially when you’ve got a miracle 10 like Finn Russell, who loves to attack where there’s space – and in that game there was a lot of space. It was difficult to defend with 14 against a class attacking Scotland team.

“No doubt that will be their mindset on the weekend, so we’ve got to make sure we have things in place to combat that to have a chance to get a good win.”

Rennie and his assistant Matt Taylor know all about Russell and Co from their time with Glasgow and Scotland and Beale is confident that the coaching team can hatch a plan to stop the stand-off.

“We’ll wait for that to come out and make sure we’re very diligent with our detail on how we want to play against Scotland,” said the 32-year-old. “One hundred per cent we need a plan, and once we’ve got that down pat then we go out there and just let it rip and enjoy the occasion.”

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