Sydney - Kurtley Beale is poised to take over the Test flyhalf spot due to
James O’Connor’s unavailability for the Wallabies internationals in
June, while Dan Vickerman’s playing future is again clouded.
In a frenetic day when the new Wallabies coaching panel
was announced, it was revealed that O’Connor had lacerated his liver
when he and Waratahs flyhalf Berrick Barnes collided heavily on
Saturday night, which will sideline him for about two months.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans also confirmed Vickerman has
had a setback in his quest to return and it is not anticipated the
experienced second-rower will be pressing for a Test spot this year.
Recurring problems with a leg injury could even force
Vickerman, who earlier this season was considering giving the game away,
to again contemplate retirement.
Wallabies management are already anticipating that
O’Connor will miss the June internationals against Scotland and Wales,
and with Quade Cooper also uncertain whether he will back on the field
by then, the Test team is looking for a quality No 10.
Christian Lealiifano has been in excellent form with the
Brumbies and is a contender, but the Herald has been told there is a
push for Beale to be tried at pivot at Test level, especially as he
played all of his early football in the No 10 jersey. It will become
even more of a compelling issue if the Rebels are serious about their
threat of dropping Danny Cipriani and moving Beale to five-eighth when
they return from their bye and play the Bulls in Melbourne on May 4.
The Rebels have been concerned with Cipriani's erratic
form in recent weeks and indicated that Beale is in line to take over as
their starting playmaker. He moved from fullback to flyhalf when
Cipriani was replaced in the second half of the Waratahs game and the
Rebels were instantly more cohesive in attack.
Deans visited O'Connor in a Sydney hospital on Sunday and
was impressed with how quickly he had recovered from such a major
''We're just worried about some internal issues, but
there at least are no broken bones, which is remarkable under the
circumstances. He is a tough guy,'' he said on Monday.
When asked about Vickerman's progress, Deans replied:
''Not so good. The latest feedback on Dan is that he got the pin out [of
his leg], and that helped him with his discomfort.
''He began to feel so comfortable that he began to move
around, was running, and it looked reasonably promising. But he's got to
the point where he is feeling discomfort again. So it's looking
Deans is one of Vickerman's biggest fans, but knows
there's no point pushing him if he is not fully fit. ''If he was 100 per
cent available and keen, you would look at him. But if he is not that,
then it's difficult,'' Deans said.
Deans was speaking at an announcement where Tony McGahan,
Andrew Blades and Nick Scrivener were on Monday named as his assistant
coaches for the international season, which starts with a match against
Scotland in Newcastle on June 5.