Alan Jones: Beale's the best footballer in country
RUGBY: Kurtley Beale has been lauded as the equal of any football athlete in Australia and ending two years of misery against the All Blacks tonight will be his aim with the fired-up Wallabies.
Former Australian coach Alan Jones said Beale and co were the last-stand crew to rescue rugby from a tortured season of subservience to the Kiwis and administrative blundering.
Jones believes the 13-point underdogs can topple Kieran Read's world champions at Suncorp Stadium and end a seven-Test "Blackout" in Bledisloe Cup clashes.
Few moments in Beale's 66-Test career have meant as much as running out in the first indigenous jersey worn by an Australian national team but that is only igniting the spark he must give this Test.
Jones scoffed at Bledisloe scars from thrashings and near-miss heartbreakers like Dunedin in August.
"The only scar is wrongly thinking that history has to be honoured," Jones said.
"History is there to be stood on its head. Why can't our team do that to an All Blacks XV? We don't have to honour the dictates of history that they always beat us.
"We can play with a certain freedom because the Bledisloe Cup stuff is over (2-0) and the pressure is on the Kiwis."
Beale's late diving try to put the Wallabies ahead in Dunedin would have entered folklore for the first Test win on Kiwi soil in 16 years but for the All Blacks' mighty five-pass try at the death.
Jones feels the pall over this season has obscured a proper appreciation of Beale's on-field maturity, his quicksilver darts, playmaking and sheer resilience to stall Sonny Bill Williams in the best Wallaby moments.
"He's a freak, the modern- day Mark Ella who can do everything," Jones said of the centre.
"I hope the board of Australian rugby understand the damage they have done to the image of the game and the consequence of devaluing the showpiece of the Wallabies.
"These boys have been swimming against the tide with the rubbish that has gone on with the Western Force, SANZAAR and money issues.
"The public have thought they are better off watching Cam Smith and the beautiful rugby league of the Melbourne Storm, AFL or Timmy Cahill, but the Wallabies are as good.
"This Test can be a proper appreciation.
"Beale is as good as any football athlete in the country bar none."
It's a massive call from Jones that will fire debate in all corners of the country even just thinking of Jonathan Thurston (rugby league), Cyril Rioli and Buddy Franklin (AFL) as the exceptional indigenous standard-setters.
What that all-star trio boast ahead of Beale are constant State of Origin glories and repeat AFL flags because Beale's trophy cupboard needs to grow beyond a 2014 Super Rugby title, Nelson Mandela Plate highs and six straight wins over Wales.
Tonight can start his escape from just three wins from 16 Tests against the All Blacks.
The Wallabies must be all over the All Blacks from the kick-off and it will be defensive pressure that counts big time because the home side has shown it can score the tries.
The Wallabies have already scored as many tries (39) in nine Tests this year as in 15 Tests last year and 22 of those have been triggered from line-outs.
Line-out throwing polish in the turbulent final 20 minutes is one of the reasons warrior hooker Stephen Moore has been picked on the bench and a decisive set-play try from such a base would be worthy of his final hometown Test.