Former World Cup-winning Wallaby Rod Kafer questions the ARU’s drawn-out investigation into the argument that could end Kurtley Beale’s Test career.
The Australian Rugby Union has been criticised for not dealing with the Kurtley Beale mid-air drama quickly enough as their integrity unit started their investigations on Wednesday.
Former Wallabies back Rod Kafer has described Beale’s spat with business manager Di Patston as minor and felt an over-the-top probe shouldn’t allow the incident to fester 10 days after it occurred on board a flight from South Africa.
The investigation into the slanging match over a t-shirt, which saw an upset Patston controversially fly home from Argentina, began on Wednesday morning with integrity officer Phil Thomson interviewing Test players, coaches and staff at the ARU’s Sydney headquarters.
In the sights of NRL clubs, Beale’s future in the code is now heavily clouded while there’s added unwanted pressure on coach Ewen McKenzie, who missed a training session to drive Patston to the Buenos Aires Airport.
The investigation was always expected to start and finish this week, after the Wallabies returned home on Tuesday night, but Kafer believed it’s become a bigger problem due to the drawn-out process.
“What’s disappointing is we just haven’t dealt with this, in my view, probably quickly enough,” the 1999 World Cup squad-member told Fox Sports News.
“It seems to me to be a relatively internal minor incident and yet longer than a week after the event we’re still talking about it and still don’t know anything and it’s dragging into a big Test week.”
McKenzie is due to announce his extended squad for next week’s third Bledisloe Test against the All Blacks on Friday, possibly before the investigation is complete.
The Wallabies will then head into camp in Brisbane on Sunday.
Despite Beale’s lengthy rap sheet, Kafer defended the game-breaking utility back and said Australian rugby couldn’t afford to lose a player of his ability for such a small alleged offence.
“It’s not like Kurtley has necessarily done any damage or done anything illegal,” he said. “You have got to feel ‘Is the process really right here? Is it a sledgehammer on a mosquito?'”
With inside centre Matt Toomua (concussion) also in doubt, Wallabies selectors will be watching Quade Cooper’s NRC display at Brookvale Oval closely on Thursday night.
Cooper is set to play 80 minutes, his first full game in his third back from shoulder and hip surgery, for Brisbane City in their NRC match with the North Harbour Rays.
But Cooper won’t be joined by Will Genia in the City halves as Genia, not used in the Wallabies’ two Tests on tour, will be rested due to the excessive travel schedule.