Troubled Wallaby Kurtley Beale says his redemption mission is still a work in progress, promising to learn from past mistakes and become a better player and person.
The player’s six-week Wallabies’ exile ended in Dublin when he came off the bench in the 26-23 defeat to Ireland on Saturday.
It was his first appearance for Australia since the investigation into a lewd message to former team business manager Di Patston that Beale described as a “silly, stupid, schoolboy prank”.
But despite the off-field drama, Beale said he was focused on the Wallabies and was “very close” to signing a new deal with the Australian Rugby Union, a month after chief executive Bill Pulver recommended he be sacked.
“I want to learn from my mistakes and keep improving on the little things moving forward to try to better myself as a person,” Beale told the travelling Australian rugby media in Dublin, in comments published Monday.
“For me to be able to come into the environment there are a lot of challenges ahead for me personally.
“I’m just trying to put my head down and do my best for the team. For me I’ve got to work that little bit extra hard to show the boys I do care and I do want to represent my country.
“Working hard to earn respect (from teammates) and to an extent the Australian rugby community. It’s a work in progress but I’m doing everything I can.”
Beale said he knows his selection has caused division in Australian rugby.
He was fined a total of Aus$48,000 ($41,700) for sending an offensive text message to Patston and punished again later for being rude and disrespectful to Wallaby team management on the flight.
“I admit it was a silly mistake, there was no intent to hurt in any way,” Beale said.
“It was a silly, stupid, schoolboy prank that I got myself caught up in.
“All the people in my life who have helped me get to where I am today are all strong women: my mother, my grandmother and my girlfriend.
“There’s definitely no disrespect or anything like that towards women. They play an important part in our game and it’s important to support that.
“I’ll be doing everything I can to redeem myself in that way. It’s important to accept what you did and try to do everything you can to make up for it, and learn from it. I feel like I’m on that track.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who took over from Ewen McKenzie in the wake of the scandal, has also shown huge faith in Beale by calling him into the tour squad and declaring he did not want to play politics with his future.