British and Irish leader says Australian side lacked professionalism in Brisbane loss.
British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has taken a swipe at the battered Wallabies ahead of this week’s potentially decisive Melbourne Test by hinting a lack of professionalism by Kurtley Beale cost Australia victory in Brisbane.
The Wallabies back, who had not started a top-class match for 15 weeks because of injury and alcohol issues, slipped as he ran in to take a last-gasp 45-metre penalty goal that would have seen Australia win instead of lose 23-21 at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Gatland said Beale’s choice to wear moulded boots on the greasy surface contributed to the miss.
Beale, who came on as a replacement just before half-time, also missed with an attempt four minutes earlier when a 31-metre kick went wide.
Gatland criticised Wallabies’ coach Robbie Deans when he said: “If I was a coach and I looked at Kurtley Beale … coming on to that field with those mouldy boots he was wearing, that sort of footwear in those conditions…”
The New Zealander, also the Welsh coach, said Beale should have been better prepared by wearing long screw-in studs as he regularly reminds his players when they play at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
“A lot of occasions, we’ve told players to make sure they turn up with the right footwear because it is a slippery surface and you have to turn up with the right tools as a part of your job,” he told reporters.
Beale put the slip down to bad luck after the preceding scrum ripped up the ground.
“I’ve been playing in ‘mouldeds’ all my life,” he said. “It was just unfortunate the grass was a bit loose under my feet.
“But there’s no excuses — that’s just rugby.”
Deans said the Australian team routinely discuss boot options but he leaves the players to choose what suits them best.
Gatland admitted that if Beale had been successful with his last-ditch goal kick the Lions’ mood would have been entirely different heading to Melbourne instead of being one Test up with two to play.
“The problem with Test match rugby is there’s nothing in between — it’s either agony or ecstasy,” he said.
“If that kick had gone over, we’d have a completely different mental attitude today.”
Instead the Wallabies are licking their wounds and needing to repeat their 2001 series feat of winning the remaining two Tests to take the series.
The injury-hit Wallabies on Sunday called up veteran flanker George Smith among three squad reinforcements, which also included his ACT Brumbies teammate Jesse Mogg, and Queensland Reds centre Ben Tapuai.
The call-ups follow a spate of Wallaby injuries at Brisbane with doubts over inside centre Pat McCabe (neck), winger Digby Ioane (shoulder), centre Adam Ashley-Cooper (shoulder) and fullback Berrick Barnes (head knock).