Kurtley Beale is back in the Wallabies picture after new coach Joe Schmidt names first squad

SYDNEY (AP) — Veteran playmaker Kurtley Beale has been recalled to the Wallabies in new coach Joe Schmidt’s first squad announcement since replacing Eddie Jones in charge of the Australian rugby side.

Beale has been impressive since linking up with the Western Force in the Super Rugby Pacific competition in April after being cleared of sexual assault allegations.

The 35-year-old Beale was included in New Zealand-born Schmidt’s 38-man squad for Australia’s upcoming tests against Wales and Georgia. Beale, the one-time world player of the year nominee, has not featured for the Wallabies since the 2021 spring tour of Europe.

Beale is a versatile utility back who has played fullback, wing, center and five-eighth for the Wallabies.

Queensland teammates Tom Lynagh and Josh Nasser have followed in their fathers’ footsteps, named in their first national squad. Michael Lynagh and Brendan Nasser played for Australia during the 1980s and 1990s.

Reds’ Alex Hodgman could become the fourth player to play for Australia and New Zealand, qualifying to represent the Wallabies through his Fijian-Australian father.

Lynagh, Nasser and Hodgman are among 13 uncapped players included as Schmidt looks to move on from the Jones' reign and failing to advance beyond the group stage at last year's Rugby World Cup in France.

“There were some very tight selection calls, as there always are when selecting a national team,” former Ireland coach Schmidt said in a statement. “The coaching group has looked hard at on-field performances and had ongoing discussions with Super Rugby coaches.

“We’ve combined the observations we’ve made, with some candid discussion and feel that we have some very good players to start working with."

The Wallabies will play three homes tests next month — against Wales on July 6 in Sydney and July 13 in Melbourne, and against Georgia on July 20 in Sydney.

The squad will assemble in Brisbane on Sunday ahead of a five-day training camp before relocating to Sydney for the first test against Wales.

Australia’s home matches in the Rugby Championship/Bledisloe Cup are Aug. 10 against South Africa and again against the Springboks on Aug. 17 at Perth. They play New Zealand on Sept., 21 at Sydney.

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Australia squad: Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Angus Blyth, Charlie Cale, Matt Faessler, Nick Frost, Langi Gleeson, Alex Hodgman, Tom Hooper, Isaac Kailea, Fraser McReight, Josh Nasser, Zane Nonggorr, Billy Pollard, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Jeremy Williams, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright.

Backs: Kurtley Beale, Filipo Daugunu, Ben Donaldson, David Feliuai, Josh Flook, Jake Gordon, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway, Darby Lancaster, Noah Lolesio, Tom Lynagh, Tate McDermott, Hunter Paisami, Dylan Pietsch, Hamish Stewart, Nic White, Tom Wright.

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AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby