Kurtley Beale received the backing of his Qantas Wallabies team mates after Saturday night’s first Test defeat to the British & Irish Lions after missing two penalty goals in the dying minutes that would have won the game for the home side.
Beale was the hero in Cardiff the last time the Wallabies played a Test match, scoring a try with the last move of the game to beat Wales, but he couldn’t repeat his heroics in Brisbane as he pushed two penalties past the uprights.
But the troubled 24-year-old, who came on as a 39th minute replacement full back for the injured Berrick Barnes, wasn’t held accountable for defeat by any of his team mates following his dramatic misses in the 75th and 79th minutes.
"He's really good and I said to him, 'mate I don't want to see you upset and I don't want to see you frown, you were outstanding when you came on the field'," said scrum half Will Genia.
"He kicked a couple of big kicks for us leading up to that kick and he made an impact. He made a 60 metre bust, he was getting in at first receiver and calling the game. I just hope he's not upset about missing one kick because he was exceptional for us."
The Wallabies left 14 points out on the pitch through missed kicks on the night. James O’Connor missed two penalties and a conversion, while Beale was wide with those two final penalty attempts.
Head coach Robbie Deans had refused to announce who would do the goal kicking before the match and had his plans ruined in the opening minute when Brumbies debutant Christian Lealiifano was carried off on a stretcher after getting hurt in the first tackle of the match against Jonathan Davies.
It was Lealiifano who was due to take on the goalkicking duties, but his injury meant O’Connor had to step up. Then Deans saw full back Barnes, his other major goalkicking option, leave the field just before the break with another head injury.
"I did think about taking that final kick, I'm not going to lie. But Kurtley came on and he was playing well. You can't put that defeat just down to him,” said O’Connor
"He made a huge difference in attack and off the boot as well. He was calm and he kicked some nice ones earlier on and it's unfortunate that he just slipped there.Not making excuses but the pitch wasn't great but we've got to be better and we will be better next week in Melbourne."
Australian skipper James Horwill, who faces a disciplinary charge for stamping this evening having been cited for stamping on opposing lock Alun Wyn Jones, was equally supportive of Beale after his side’s agonising loss.
"I spoke to him and said, 'don't worry about it, these things happen and you've just got to get on with it. Everyone in the team still loves you'," said Horwill.