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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Rebels would welcome back Beale



Troubled Australia back Kurtley Beale, suspended indefinitely for punching two of his Melbourne Rebels teammates, would be welcomed back to the Super Rugby side with open arms, according to fellow Wallaby James O'Connor.

Beale was sent home from South Africa and stood down by the Rebels after coming to blows with Rebels captain Gareth Delve and winger Cooper Vuna on the team bus last month following their record 64-7 flogging by the Durban-based Sharks.

"The boys want Kurtley back," Rebels utility back O'Connor told reporters on Thursday.

"He's definitely got the support of the playing group.

"I'm a very close friend of Kurtley's and he's a great guy. He'll pull together and stick strong.

"He's got a lot of great mates in his team and we're all with him.

"He's just putting in the hard yards and trying to get fit, and trying to do all the little things to make everything right."

Australian media reports said Beale was affected by alcohol when he swung at his teammates in South Africa and the 24-year-old said in a statement last week that he had "issues" and was working hard to fix his problems.

The Australian Rugby Union slapped a "substantial" fine on Beale but said it would support the player through his rehabilitation.

Beale, a strong contender for the Wallabies flyhalf role for the three tests against the British and Irish Lions in June and July, is also under a legal cloud after being charged with assault following a fracas at a Brisbane nightclub last year.

Vuna was suspended for a week for his part in the team bus incident but was named on the bench for the Rebels' match against Western Force in Perth on Saturday.

Former Wales forward Delve will miss the match due to injury, leaving Wallabies flanker Scott Higginbotham to lead the team.

The Rebels are bottom of the Australian conference in the southern hemisphere competition as the season approaches the halfway mark, with one win from six matches.

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