WALLABIES fullback Kurtley Beale has thanked coaches and teammates for their unwavering support as he coped with the pressure of an assault charge, for which he was found not guilty yesterday.With the pathway for his fledgling Test career now re-opened after yesterday’s verdict, Beale was in good humour last night as he arrived at Sydney airport for his flight to Perth, where he will rejoin the Wallabies in camp. He had left Mt Druitt Local Court six hours earlier after being found not guilty of assault.Beale, 21, was charged with assaulting his 17-year-old female cousin at a family party at Tregear on July 18 last year. It was alleged he put her in a headlock and punched her four times in the head. Beale pleaded not guilty to one count of common assault.Yesterday he was found not guilty by magistrate Glenn Bartley, who said he relied on the credible evidence of Beale’s stepfather Bob Smith. Smith said he did not see Beale approach his cousin. She had not been injured and had drunk beer and half a bottle of bourbon that night, the court heard.A smiling Beale last night told the Herald of the past few days. He played his second Test for the Wallabies, against Fiji on Saturday night in Canberra, and faced court yesterday before flying to Perth.”It’s all very quick,” he said. ”Everything has been happening so fast. It’s been busy with the court. Now I’m just focusing [on the Wallabies]. I’m very excited. I just have to get through this flight. I’m very excited to get back to camp.”Asked how he made it through the season with the case hanging over his head, Beale replied: “Throughout the campaign – the Super 14 and leading into the first game of the Test season – my focus has been on footy. While I have been around with the boys, they have helped me a lot. The coaching staff have helped me as well, by sticking by my side and encouraging me to do well leading up to every game.”Beale paid tribute to Waratahs teammate Drew Mitchell, who was his roommate during the Super 14 and with whom he and winger Lachie Turner formed a formidable back three for NSW in the second half of the season. “There was Drew Mitchell and the senior players,” he said. ”And with my family, we stuck as a tight unit … we knew the result would be in my favour.”Earlier, outside the court after his hearing, Beale said he was “very relieved that it’s all over now. I’ve always said that I was not guilty from the start.”Beale is relishing the prospect of playing England. He will get his first chance in Perth tonight as a bench player for the Australian Barbarians, who will play England in their first tour match in Australia, and possibly in the first Test there on Saturday.”England are a great side. They are a big force in rugby union,” Beale said. ”With selection for the Test [on the line] … fingers crossed. I just hope I play well [tonight] and then train hard and like everyone, put my hand up and if selected [for the Test] be ready.”Wallabies coach Robbie Deans and Waratahs coach Chris Hickey believe that with the court case behind Beale, the best would now come from the fullback who earned his first Test cap after coming off the bench against Wales during last year’s Wallabies spring tour.”He’s been pretty good, he’s a very positive sort of bloke,” Deans said. ”But it’s also a bit of a cloud over you. He’s a young man. It’s not the sort of thing you want hanging over you … I’ve got no doubt he’ll be a lot more buoyant now and a lot wiser for the experience.”
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