Kurtley Beale could be thrust back into Test action off the bench against Ireland if the controversial utility proves himself in his first week back with the Wallabies.
Beale has been reunited with his Australian teammates for the first time since the text message scandal and will commence training with the squad in Dublin on Monday.
The Waratahs star, who received a call-up to the spring tour on Friday along with young backrower Jake Schatz, feared his career could be over as he faced the music last month over sending a lewd text to former staff member Di Patston.
But Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has signalled Beale’s wait to return to the green and gold could end this weekend.
Beale won’t jump the queue of players who have been waiting for their chance on the tour – including centre Matt Toomua – with his only chance to start coming down to an injury or a need to rest superstar fullback Israel Folau.
Cheika admits that’s unlikely but has challenged Beale to push his claims for a spot in the squad for the penultimate Test of the tour at Landsdowne Road on Saturday.
“If he’s to get a run it would only be off the bench at this stage,” Cheika said of Beale, who last played for Australia against South Africa on September 27.
“There’s no way he’d be coming into the starting team with the other guys that have been here training.
“If Izzy had to have some time off, if he was carrying an injury, maybe (Beale would be considered to start) but I think we’ll just see how he travels and at best he would get a run on the bench.”
Cheika plans to speak to Folau about his fatigue levels after admitting the cross-code star made some uncharacteristic errors in the 29-26 loss to France in Paris.
Folau, who has not missed a minute for the Wallabies this year, was kept quiet by an aggressive French defence and was unusually vulnerable under the high ball.
“He did make a few uncharacteristic errors but I’m sure he’ll bounce back from that,” Cheika said.
Despite the loss to France upping the pressure for remaining tour games against Ireland and England, Cheika will not alter his plans to give some fresh faces a chance this week.
Toomua, winger Henry Speight and young Rebels flanker Luke Jones are in the frame for Test recalls while veterans Will Genia and Quade Cooper could be considered for starting roles.
“If I’m going to do it (have a look at other players), now is the time,” Cheika said.
“I’ve got to have a look at it but at the same time focus on getting the results.
“You’ve got to back your players as well and all the players in the squad have come here to make sure they do a job for me.”
Beale’s return is set to dominate the build-up to the match against an in-form Ireland but Cheika and his players continue to insist it won’t prove a distraction.
“I think we can focus enough on football, especially with such a big game coming up,” the coach said.