RUGBY LEAGUE - DRAGONS
He's adamant his mind may have forgotten about yet another knee reconstruction but Gerard Beale still feels the need to impress his St George Illawarra teammates and fans.
If that translates to New Zealand’s selectors, he’ll be happy with that too.
Watching helplessly at home as the Kiwis relinquished the World Cup to Australia last year, Beale only fleetingly allowed himself to think about pulling on the New Zealand jumper in the end-of-season Four Nations. The last of his five Tests for New Zealand came in November 2012.
He’ll get no better chance to stake a claim for a sixth than his second game back from injury when the Dragons head across the ditch to take on the Warriors at Eden Park on Saturday.
‘‘[The World Cup] was one of the things I wanted to be a part of, but being injured kept me away,’’ Beale said. ‘‘I know I’ve got some ground to make up and I want to be part of that vibe again.
‘‘I’d always put my hand up to play for New Zealand and it’s an ultimate goal to get back in there, but for me to do that I have to play consistent footy.
‘‘It starts here [at the Dragons] with us hopefully winning a few games and playing good football. Hopefully I can get back into some form and put myself in a position to be picked.’’
First and foremost he wants to win over his teammates and fans, who were gutted when St George Illawarra’s major signing lasted just five games into his maiden season in the Red V.
Josh Dugan’s subsequent arrival necessitated Beale’s permanent move to the centres, a position he frequented while at the Broncos.
He’s expecting a torrid time trying to contain the Warriors’ monster outside backs after wooden spoon favourites Parramatta embarrassed them last weekend.
‘‘It’s only the second [game] back [from injury] and I still want to impress the boys and the fans,’’ Beale said.
‘‘Whenever I look at the draw at the start of the year I always try to find out when we’re playing the Warriors and if we can get back to New Zealand.
‘‘I think it’s going to be a big challenge for us. They’re not going to perform like last week...they’ll put that behind them and they’ll be ready to go.’’
The Dragons return to Eden Park for the Warriors clash after their struggles in the pre-season Auckland Nines tournament.
It’s one of three matches that the Warriors will play at the venue this season.
‘‘Every game, whether it’s rugby or rugby league that is played there, is big and for us it’s a privilege to play at Eden Park,’’ Beale said.
‘‘They’re going to be in front of their home crowd and to them Eden Park means a lot.