Kurtley Beale’s hopes of facing the British & Irish Lions aren’t over according to Qantas Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans.
Beale was left out of the 25-man squad named by Deans on Sunday after entering a rehab clinic to address alcohol issues last week.
The star utility back was his country’s first-choice fly-half for the latter part of the Rugby Championship and the four Test end-of-year tour of Europe and was in line for a starting spot against the Lions prior to the beginning of the new season.
But high-profile problems off the field saw him suspended indefinitely for an alcohol-fuelled altercation with Rebels team-mates Gareth Delve and Cooper Vuna before he then breached the conditions of his comeback by drinking after the Rebels’ narrow defeat to the Chiefs earlier this month.
No date has been set for a potential return to action but Deans was quick to point out that he will be adding a further six players to his squad on June 11 and Beale could well be among them if he can prove he is fully recovered in the coming weeks.
"The key thing for Kurtley Beale is his welfare at this stage, he's taken the initiative to put himself through a rehabilitation process and that's a great step," said Deans.
"He's got a chance (of playing) but clearly he has to get through that process and then it will be a case of monitoring his physical and mental state and we'll go from there.
"It's possible, but it depends on so many factors that we're better not to guess at this stage."
Beale has limited time to press his claims, however, with the first Test between the Qantas Wallabies and The Lions now just a month away.
The 24-year-old won’t be involved when the Rebels face the Waratahs this coming weekend and it is highly unlikely he will be recalled for the following week’s clash with the Reds in Brisbane.
Just one more game then remains before Deans finalises his squad in three weeks’ time and before the series with the Lions kicks off on June 22.
But Deans has openly suggested that it is the mental effects of the rehabilitation process that provide the biggest obstacle to Beale’s international selection rather than the physical worries surrounding a significant lack of game time.
"It's taken a lot of courage to enter the process and it will be emotionally draining," added Deans.
"He has been able, to some extent, been able to maintain his physical state but clearly it will be a watching brief."