Hunt motivated by Beale’s form to win back No.12 Wallaby jersey

Injured Wallaby and Brisbane Global Rugby Tens ambassador Karmichael Hunt says Kurtley Beale’s excellent form in a gold jersey against New Zealand is all the motivation he needs to win back his No.12 position.

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Hunt is undergoing rehabilitation on an ankle injury that will rule him out for the majority of the Rugby Championship.

The Queensland Reds utility back, who made his Test debut in June against Fiji before featuring in the next two matches against Scotland and Italy, says he is ahead of schedule with his recovery and hopes to begin running by the end of the week.

When Hunt does begin to run, however, there is the risk the injury will flare up again and he may have to give it more time to heal.

Hunt is eyeing off Australia’s two-leg trip to South Africa and Argentina, which gets under way when the team leaves on September 23 before games in Bloemfontein and Mendoza.

Michael Cheika heaped praise on Hunt after the June series but this time around it was the former rugby league star talking up Beale and why his favourable return to the Wallabies fold will serve as motivation on an individual level.

“You use every bit of motivation you can … it [Beale’s form] is definitely a driving factor,” Hunt said. “He’s been probably one of our best players, if not the best player, for us over the first couple of games. The second game he led from the front. Defensively, he did really well and in attack as well. He was classy as he always is. You can’t fault him for his return and it’s really good to have him back on board. His experience is invaluable.”

Hunt and Beale were at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday for the launch of the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens, which will be held next year on February 9 and 10.

There are a number of changes to the competition this year, with a Fiji team and French club Pau joining Panasonic Wild Knights and Samoa as the four international sides for the second instalment of the tournament.

Last year organisers were dealt a cruel weather blow when temperatures reached 37 degrees at the ground – the hottest mark for 13 years.

In a move that will no doubt attract more fans through the turnstiles, organisers have also decided to go with a day-night event, similar to the Sydney 7s.

A total of 14 teams, including all 10 Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby franchises, will compete for the title and Beale is already throwing up potential wildcards to play after Lote Tuqiri came out of retirement for the NSW Waratahs, who used the tournament as pre-season hit-out.

“Bring back Wendell [Sailor]?” Beale joked. “I think Nathan Grey has still got it in him, he’d be a nice little wildcard to throw in there. Phil Waugh, bring him back. It’s a great event and to get ex-players back … it’s great for the game.”

What also is good for the game is the Wallabies’ reputation-recovering result in Dunedin even though they went down by six points in a thrilling match.

Although Hunt wasn’t involved in August when Cheika destroyed his players on the training paddock in preparation for the All Blacks, he believes the positive signs from Dunedin will put the team on an upward trajectory.

“The team we saw in Dunedin, their effort defensively and effort in attack, it looked like a completely different team to game one,” Hunt said. “It’s only onwards and upwards from here which is a good thing. Although the Bledisloe is gone we can start building going forward.”

Beale said a few players were “rattled” after game one in Sydney but would be full of energy once they congregated in Perth on Sunday ahead of clash with South Africa the following Saturday.

The Springboks have won both of their Rugby Championship matches against Argentina, by margins of 22 points in Port Elizabeth and 18 points in Salta.

“There’s definitely a lot of confidence around the group at the moment,” Beale said. “There is going to be threats all over the park with a big dominant forward pack. Traditionally South African teams have that capacity to squeeze you and bash you and spin the ball out to the backs. We’ll be aware of that.”

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