The penny has finally dropped for Waratahs playmaker Kurtley Beale that he can no longer rely on talent alone.
Beale is the fittest he’s been heading into a Super Rugby season, as he prepares for his new running role at inside centre.
Coming back from off-season shoulder surgery, Beale has trained hard and according to coach Michael Cheika has even surprised himself with the benefits.
“Kurtley is starting to learn that hard work is actually quite rewarding,” Cheika told AAP.
“He’s seeing it on the field. He’s come back from his shoulder op early and played 70 minutes and 65 minutes in the trials, and he’s wanted to play more.
“I didn’t know him before, but he’s in good shape.
“He’s pushed himself hard. Every time it looks like he’s going to walk, there’s someone kicking him saying ‘run.'”
Beale’s prodigious talent carried him so far so early that fitness and discipline has often run a clear second.
Last year he was sacked by Melbourne with his behaviour hardly deserving of teammate of the year honours.
But so impressed has Cheika been with Beale’s attitude since arriving back at the Waratahs, he’s paid him the ultimate compliment of being “a real team player”.
Rather than kick up a stink at being a marquee signing and missing out on his preferred position of five-eighth, Beale has embraced Cheika’s plan for him to play outside Bernard Foley at No.12.
“His application to the game has been great. He’s learnt a new way to play, he’s fitting in well … and he’s just got that X-factor in his game,” said Cheika.
“You saw a moment in the (trial) against the Blues where he went to first receiver and Foley went out wide and threw him a ball and he went straight through. You can’t coach that.
“That’s just two guys that know how to play footy.”