Beale streets ‘em with incredible ‘Tahs ride
From a schoolboy sensation to the equal most capped Waratah of all time, Kurtley Beale has never walked the traditional path.
Controversies, form slumps, extreme flashes of brilliance, match-winning plays, a Super Rugby trophy and trailblazing the way for modern-day indigenous players.
"Throughout my career I've experienced as many lows as highs, there's been a real big rollercoaster ride there," Beale told Rugby Central.
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"Every low that I've hit really knocked me around. I had to take a step back and really have a look at what I was doing in life. Those hiccups allowed me to be better.
"Looking back, every little hiccup I had, those were the learnings that allowed me to make sure I wasn't doing things again the way I did back then. I'm not the most perfect human being out there.
"I'm not making excuses for myself, but those experiences allowed me to really understand the impact I have on people around me; my work, my family, my teammates.
"And those situations allowed me to grow and make sure I was a better person."
Beale is a rarity.
The most brilliantly gifted players - think Carlos Spencer, Quade Cooper and Rupeni Caucaunibuca - do not also top "most capped" lists.
The flash burns out too quickly. But on Sunday against the Brumbies in Canberra, Beale will equal retired prop Benn Robinson at the top of the Tahs' list with 148 Super Rugby games.
The pair won the 2014 premiership together against the Crusaders; Beale at inside centre against Dan Carter, Robinson at loose-head scrummaging against Owen Franks.
"On the field he was one of the silkiest props I've played with, he certainly had the ball skills of a five-eighth," Beale said of Robinson.
"He always delivered big moments in the game when we needed, he always stood up.
"He's just an all-round good bloke, one of the most likeable characters in the team.
"And 'Cat' was always like a big brother to me, so it's pretty crazy to think I'll be equalling his record this weekend for most capped Waratah."
Beale will join French club Racing Metro after this season, ending a Super Rugby career that began in 2007.
Now 31, the mercurial playmaker can reflect on his journey with a wisdom that can only transpire by transforming from a boy into a man inside the sky-blue jersey.
"There's so many proud moments in your career, when you come to the back end of it you mature and you understand the opportunities we have as professional athletes, it's extraordinary," Beale said.
"The journey of a rugby player, I'm blessed to be a part of because it's definitely turned me into the person I am today, it's given me so many different outlooks on life."
"As a player you want to be part of a legacy, of what your team can leave behind for the next generation.
"But I think as a player, you also want to leave your own legacy and what you can offer a team and leave a little bit of something for the next generation of player in my position to rub off on and influence and give them a bit of inspiration to continue wearing the sky blue jersey and Wallaby jersey, because that was the impact I (felt) when I was coming through the ranks and those players had that effect on me."
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