15 Minutes with…Kurtley Beale

Wallaby Kurtley Beale has made an impact on the national team since making his Test debut against Wales in 2009, quickly cementing his place as a gifted playmaker with energy and ideas to burn.

Raised in the tough suburb of Mt Druitt in Sydney’s far west, Beale was awarded an indigenous scholarship to Sydney’s St Joseph’s College – a famous breeding ground of Wallaby greats – becoming captain of the Australian Schoolboys side while a student there. Beale has drawn comparison with mercurial 1980s legend Mark Ella for his skills, spontaneity and Aboriginal heritage.

The 22-year-old has proved versatile too, playing fly-half, fullback, on the wing or as a centre as required – and sometimes takes on the kicking duties for his provincial side, the NSW Waratahs, in the annual Super 15 competition.

PLAYER BIO – Age: 22; Height: 88cm; Weight: 90kg; Place of Birth: Blacktown, Sydney; Teams: NSW Waratahs and Australia; Position:  Fullback; Nickname: “Curly Bill”.

With the Super 15 season underway and the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand kicking off in September, MF’s Tim Spicer caught up with the Tahs’ star, whose ability to create something from nothinghas become a trademark.

You seemed to lose a ton of weight between ’09 and ’10. How much did you lose and how did you do it?

It wasn’t a ton of weight, it was more about staying close to my playing weight over the course of 12 months. I had a pretty bad injury at the end of the 2008 Super 14 season, which put me out for the rest of the year. When I came back, I probably gave myself a lot more work to do than I should have. Between 2009 and 2010, I did better than that and this off-season, I’ve come back almost spot-on my playing weight.

You also seemed to gain five metres in pace over the same time. Was that just due to the weight loss or was there special sprint work as well?

I picked up a bit of speed, but I guess now that I’m playing fullback, I’m finding myself in clear space more often. When you’re playing at No 10 you have the defence right on top of you, so you’re probably going to get through the defence with good lines and footwork, whereas out wide, your speed is a lot more noticeable.

Out of 10, how fit are you?

Probably 8.5 … there’s always room for improvement.

How often do you train each week?

We’re doing something every day, and four of those days are usually pretty intense. We have some download days, where the body recovers, but everyone is still doing some activity, whether it’s rehab-related or focused on flexibility, such  as yoga. It changes a bit in-season, but you’re still generally doing something each day.

Other than rugby practice, what does your training consist of?

We have specific sessions focusing on speed, running technique, conditioning, strength and flexibility, and much of the rugby training also incorporates those elements to reflect a game situation.

What’s your favourite type of cardio workout?

When you’re combining cardio with ballwork, it’s a lot more fun – it’s always better having the footy in your hands.

Growing up, were your sporting idols rugby players or from other sports?

I watched a lot of sports; Anthony Mundine [controversial rugby league star who walked away from the game and became world middleweight boxing champion in 2003] was pretty handy when he was playing rugby league.

How do you feel about women’s sport? Reckon it gets enough TV time and media space?

We’ve probably got more women ranked high in the world in their sport than men at the moment, so they should definitely get their fair share of the spotlight.

If you hadn’t been a rugby player, what would you have liked to have been?

Hopefully, a professional in another sport. It’s a pretty good life to have.

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