Beale to captain Waratahs for first time

Darren Walton
Kurtley Beale will captain the Waratahs for the first time on Friday night

For all his accomplishments and milestones during a distinguished 147-game Super Rugby career, Wallabies stalwart Kurtley Beale has never captained his beloved NSW Waratahs.

But he will on Friday night against the Chiefs in Wollongong - and he's a tad apprehensive apparently.

"Yeah, it's awesome. It's a great thrill for him," Waratahs coach Rob Penney said on Wednesday after naming Beale to deputise for injured skipper Rob Simmons.

"I think he's a bit nervous about it, too, just quietly.

"But that's what you'd like. He cares about the place deeply and it matters to him a lot, how the team performs and him being a little bit nervous is nice."

A one-time World Player of the Year nominee, Beale was promoted to captain when Simmons was formally ruled out after hurting his ankle in last week's 29-17 win over the Lions.

Despite taking until he was 31 to lead his state, Penney said Beale was a natural leader.

"He's been superb. I think I mentioned last week how really proactive and positive he's been," Penney said.

"He's got a deep desire to make sure the young blokes perform well and do well in the Waratahs jersey and that's manifesting itself in a really positive light across his own leadership involvement."

Penney said it was vital the Tahs built on their drought-breaking first win of the season and bristled at the suggestion his team were underdogs.

"If we play to our capabilities, then we'll be in the fight. If we're in the fight, you know what it's like, tight matches can go either way," the coach said.

"We're certainly capable enough to give them a fright."

But the Waratahs expect the Chiefs, fresh off a bye, to come out firing having had a fortnight to stew over their last-up loss to the Brumbies.

"They've been brooding for a couple of weeks and that's not good," Penney said.

"I saw Neil Barnes on some television the other day, he's obviously their forward coach, and he looked a bit angry still.

"I suspect that they've been drip-feeding that attitude into the last 10 days and someone's got to pay for that. We've just got to be ready for it."

As well as Ryan McCauley filling in for Simmons, the Waratahs will miss halfback Jake Gordon (hamstring), with Mitch Short stepping up, while Randwick graduate James Ramm will make his starting debut on the wing, replacing Mark Nauaqanitawasa (back).

Waratahs: Kurtley Beale (capt), James Ramm, Alex Newsome, Karmichael Hunt, Jack Maddocks, Will Harrison, Mitch Short, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Lachlan Swinton, Tom Staniforth, Ryan McCauley, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Robbie Abel, Angus Bell. Res: Damien Fitzpatrick, Rory O'Connor, Tetera Faulkner, Pat Tafa, Jed Holloway, Michael McDonald, Lalakai Foketi, Siosifa Lisala.