The Melbourne Rebels have parted ways with Kurtley Beale, following on closely from their decision to release James O’Connor; casting adrift two of the troubled young stars of Australian rugby.
The Rebels said in a statement yesterday they will not extend Beale’s contract beyond this season, which ended with their 38-37 Super Rugby win over the Highlanders in Melbourne on Friday. O’Connor started that match, his last for the Rebels, on the bench.
“Whilst Kurtley has been a valuable and popular player for the Rebels over the past two years, it is no secret that he has been facing some significant personal challenges,” Rebels chief executive Rob Clarke said, alluding to Beale’s past alcohol-related incidents.
“The Rebels have supported him through this process and at all times have made decisions in the best interests of Kurtley’s welfare. Kurtley will continue his off-field program in Sydney and the Rebels believe that he should remain there supported by his family network,” he added.
Clarke said the decisions to release Beale and O’Connor were part of building “a sustainable winning culture both on and off the field.”
Beale agreed to seek counseling for alcohol-related problems after being sent home from the Rebels’ Super Rugby tour to South Africa this year for fighting with teammates.
He stumbled in his first attempts at rehabilitation, earning further sanctions from the Rebels, but showed sufficient improvement after counseling to be recalled to Australia’s team for their Test series against the British and Irish Lions.
Beale slipped while attempting a last-minute penalty in the first Test match, allowing the Lions to hold on for a 23-21 win.
His off-field problems, which have often occurred in association with O’Connor, returned when the pair were photographed at a Melbourne fast food outlet at 4am, two days before the second Test. The Wallabies insisted neither had been drinking.
Beale and O’Connor then slept in and missed the team bus to training on the Thursday before the final Test in Sydney, having to catch a taxi to the practice ground. They were seen out at a nightclub at 5:30am on the morning after Australia’s 41-16 third Test defeat, which gave the Lions a 2-1 series win.