Kurtley Beale was all smiles as he returned to Wallabies training in Dublin as forgotten man Jake Schatz quietly set about making a comeback of his own.
The duo, who received mid-tour call-ups last week, slotted seamlessly into the Australian squad during a session at the training base of coach Michael Cheika’s former club Leinster on Monday.
Beale joked with his teammates prior to the session and looked sharp when getting down to business in his bid to push for selection in Saturday’s (Sunday morning AEDT) clash with Ireland at Lansdowne Road.
While the spotlight is very much on Beale’s return from the text message scandal that threatened his career, Reds flanker Schatz has also revealed a burning desire to make the most of his recall.
The 24-year-old, who cut short a holiday with his girlfriend in Thailand to join the squad, made his debut against Argentina last month but wasn’t included in Cheika’s first Wallabies squad.
The former Australian under-20s captain has been on the cusp for breaking into the senior squad for some time.
He missed out on making his debut last year due to a knee injury but having to wait for another crack has only increased his hunger.
“When you don’t get selected, or you’re just out of reach, it creates a fire in your belly,” Schatz said.
“You want to make it, you want to work hard and learn why you aren’t getting selected.
“I always see it as an opportunity and the next two weeks will be the same.”
Schatz is yet to speak to Cheika about the possibility of getting game time in the remaining tour Tests against Ireland and England.
“First of all I have to learn everything under the new coach,” Schatz said.
“I’ve never had anything to do with him before and I think it’s an opportunity for me to show him how I operate at training, learn quickly and get out there and give it a good crack.”
Schatz travelled from Australia with Beale, saying the controversial utility was in good spirits and eager to prove himself.
Veteran playmaker Quade Cooper said the players were delighted to have Waratahs star Beale back in the fold but it hadn’t shifted focus from bouncing back from the 29-26 loss to France in Paris.
“From a team point of view he (Beale) offers a lot, everyone’s happy to have him here,” said Cooper, who come off the bench in Paris for his first Test appearance this year.
“But we’re all here with the same focus of improving as a rugby team, and improving as rugby players.”
Cooper feels the Wallabies have an ace up their sleeve this week in Cheika’s familiarity with Irish rugby.
Cheika got his big coaching break with Leinster in 2005, leading them to the European title four seasons later.
“He knows the players well and the style the Irish play,” Cooper said.
“I think it does give us a little bit of inside knowledge.”