Wallaby and Rebels bad boy Kurtley Beale has stopped playing rugby to deal with his off-field demons.
The Australian Rugby Union, in a statement on Thursday, confirmed that Beale will “stand down indefinitely” to get treatment for his alcohol addiction.
Beale is the second high-profile international this year to stand down over his alcohol abuse and follows the much-publicised decision by All Black and Crusaders wing Zac Guildford – who admitted he is an alcoholic and he also struggles with other aspects of having an addictive personality. Guilford has since returned to the sport, after undergoing extensive counselling and treatment.
The ARU announcement on Thursday follows after Beale and Rebels teammate Cooper Vuna were sent home from the Melbourne outfit’s tour of South Africa as a result of an altercation on the team bus last Saturday.
The incident occurred when Beale, clearly under the weather, abused Rebels skipper Gareth Delve after the Welsh No.8 told him to put his shirt back on on the bus back to their team Durban hotel. Vuna intervened and was punched by Beale, before retaliating and felling the utility back.
Both players were sent home on Monday, following an initial team hearing into the altercation took place after the Rebels suffered a humiliating 7-64 loss to the Sharks earlier that day.
“Kurtley Beale has today [Thursday] acknowledged he needs to deal with off-field issues before returning to action in Super Rugby with the Melbourne Rebels,” the ARU statement said.
Beale has agreed to an “indefinite stand down” from playing and to seek external counselling assistance.
The Rebels and Wallaby star who won the coveted John Eales Medal in 2011 has been engaged in a series of meetings over the past 24 hours with officials from the ARU, Melbourne Rebels and the Rugby Union Players Association.
He has also accepted a substantial fine over the South African incident after admitting his guilt and foregoing the opportunity to have his case heard by an ARU disciplinary hearing.
“This is an important step for Kurtley and ARU feels an obligation to assist in ensuring, regardless of Rugby, that he moves forward in a positive manner,” said ARU CEO Bill Pulver.
“He knows he needs to be accountable for his actions, and he is determined to overcome the challenges he has faced in recent times.
“The unfortunate matter in South Africa was not an isolated incident for Kurtley.
“He understands it was unacceptable and, most critically, acknowledges he needs to make changes.
“Kurtley is an incredibly talented Rugby player. Two years ago he was the Wallabies’ best player in winning the John Eales Medal.
“Last year, despite playing only 10 games, he was voted the Rebels’ player of the year. Both of those awards were voted on by his playing peers.”
A date for Beale to resume playing has not been set and assessments will be made on a progressive basis.
Rebels Chief Executive Officer Steven Boland said they will “support” Beale throughout the process.
“We have been working in conjunction with the ARU and RUPA over the past 48 hours to arrive at this position,” said Boland
“We sincerely hope that Kurtley will now embrace the assistance required to beat the issues that have been plaguing his life over the last period of time.
“We will fully support Kurtley through this process and hope that there is a time not far down the track when he can rejoin his teammates at the Rebels.
“I would like to express my great personal gratitude to all members of our franchise, and to our magnificent stakeholder base that have been so supportive throughout this week.
“We all hope that our players can repay that support on Saturday against a very in form Cheetahs team.”
The Rebels will face the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.