Beale back in Schmidt’s new-look Wallabies squad

Darren Walton and Melissa Woods |

Veteran utility Kurtley Beale could be headed to the 100-Test club after being recalled in Joe Schmidt’s much-anticipated first Wallabies squad-naming since replacing Eddie Jones as coach.

Beale has been impressive since linking up with the Western Force in the Super Rugby Pacific competition in April after being cleared of sexual assault allegations and missing the entire 2023 season.

But the 35-year-old’s inclusion in Schmidt’s 38-man squad for Australia’s upcoming Tests against Wales and Georgia was one of the bigger surprises of Friday’s announcement.

The one-time World Player of the Year nominee hasn’t featured for the Wallabies since answering an SOS call to join the 2021 spring tour squad following an injury to Reece Hodge.

The versatile Beale, who has played fullback, wing, centre and five-eighth amid his 95 Tests, was among 17 backs named, with 21 forwards included.

In a potential precursor to selection of his starting XV to face Wales in Sydney on July 6, Schmidt said Beale had combined superbly with five eighth Ben Donaldson at the Force. 

“If you’re in the squad, you’re a chance to put the boots on in a 23 at some stage during the three-week period,” he said.

“Kurtley’s played well. Feedback from the Force has been really positive about his influence.”

NRL-bound five-eighth Carter Gordon and winger Mark Nawaqanitawase were overlooked, with only 14 players remaining from Jones’s ill-fated 33-strong World Cup squad.

Carter Gordon
There’s no room for Carter Gordon after his code switch to join the NRL with Gold Coast from 2025. (Andrew Cornaga/AAP PHOTOS)

Brumbies halfback Ryan Lonergan was another omission, with Schmidt preferring to bring NSW Waratahs captain Jake Gordon back in from the cold. 

There were also recalls for Brumbies No.10 Noah Lolesio and Reds back-rowers Liam Wright and Harry Wilson, who suffered a broken arm mid-season. 

Rebels lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto won selection despite missing the back-end of the Super season following foot surgery.

Schmidt didn’t consider overseas-based players, while others including Max Jorgensen, Angus Bell, Rob Leota, Lachlan Lonergan and Dave Porecki were ruled out through injury.

Queensland teammates, playmaker Tom Lynagh and hooker Josh Nasser, have followed in their fathers’ footsteps, named in their first national squad. 

Michael Lynagh and Brendan Nasser pulled on the gold jersey during the 1980s and 1990s.

Reds prop Alex Hodgman is a step closer to becoming the fourth player to represent Australia and New Zealand, qualifying for the Wallabies through his Fijian-Australian father after four Tests with the All Blacks in 2020.

Lynagh, Nasser and Hodgman are among 13 uncapped players included as Schmidt looks to move on from the disastrous Jones reign.

Forwards Angus Blyth, Charlie Cale, Isaac Kailea, Ryan Smith and Jeremy Williams have a chance to earn their first caps along with backs David Feliuai, Josh Flook, Darby Lancaster, Dylan Pietsch and Hamish Stewart.

Winger Lancaster, 21, only made his Super debut with Melbourne this season but was preferred ahead of Reds try-scoring whiz-kid Tim Ryan, with Brumbies speedster Corey Toole left out to play sevens at the Paris Olympics, if selected.

Darby Lancaster
Darby Lancaster’s switch from sevens to 15-a-side has paid off with a Wallabies call-up. (Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS)

Schmidt conceded ringing Lonergan and his Brumbies teammate Darcy Swain were among the toughest of the calls to 31 players he made personally to advise they’d missed the cut.

“The playoff games always carry a little bit more weight. You’re playing at a slightly higher level, a little bit more pressure,” Schmidt said behind the number of newcomers named.

“But there’s a lot more pressure to come. So there’s a number of guys in the squad who aren’t pressure-tested and we’re pretty keen to learn a bit about them over these next three Test matches.” 

Wallabies squad:

Forwards – Allan Alaalatoa, Angus Blyth, Charlie Cale, Matt Faessler, Nick Frost, Langi Gleeson, Alex Hodgman, Tom Hooper, Isaac Kailea, Fraser McReight, Josh Nasser, Zane Nonggorr, Billy Pollard, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Jeremy Williams, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright.

Backs – Kurtley Beale, Filipo Daugunu, Ben Donaldson, David Feliuai,
Josh Flook, Jake Gordon, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway, Darby Lancaster, Noah Lolesio, Tom Lynagh, Tate McDermott, Hunter Paisami, Dylan Pietsch, Hamish Stewart, Nic White, Tom Wright.