Vice-captain James Slipper says Kurtley Beale will be embraced back into the Wallabies with a clean slate when he joins the European tour in Dublin on Sunday (Monday AEDT).
And Slipper believes a tough week of training in the wake of the loss to France will ensure the controversial playmaker’s return does not prove an unsettling influence.
While Beale’s recall following the text message scandal has divided opinion among the public, Slipper said the players shared the “apolitical” view of coach Michael Cheika that the best available players should be on the tour.
The drama involving Beale has at times overshadowed the on-field efforts of his teammates and put them in the awkward position of having to address the controvery in the media.
But Reds prop Slipper said Beale would be accepted back like any other player and felt the Waratahs star’s focus should be on making amends with the Australian public rather than his teammates.
“He’s obviously made a bad decision in the past but he’s sat out and done his time,” Slipper said following the 29-26 loss to France.
“We’ll always get around a player.
“Whatever he’s had to do, he’s now eligible to play for the Wallabies.
“I think the best thing for Kurtley is to get back and really work hard and not necessarily prove anything to us but prove it to himself and to the rugby fans, that’s the biggest one.”
Thee prop expects Beale and fellow mid-tour call up Jake Schatz to get a tough initiation to the tour, with Cheika likely to work the side even harder after Saturday’s defeat in Paris.
“Coming off a loss, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of hard work at training in the next week and there won’t be too much room for thinking about distractions,” Slipper said.
Slipper expects the scrum to remain a strong focus in training ahead of Saturday’s clash with Ireland in Dublin.
Australia’s forwards performed well for most of the game against the French but consistency remains a concern.
“We’re definitely improving but, once again, it fell apart at the end of the game and not only that, our set piece at crucial moments you could possibly say let us down,” Slipper said.
“It’s something we’re working hard on and we feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”