Sharks 'Mr Fix-it' proves Flanagan's theory right
The Sharks ‘Mr Fix-it’ in 2016, Beale found himself in a battle with Ricky Leutele for the left centre position for most of the season.
While not always coach Shane Flanagan’s first choice and often starting matches from the interchange bench, Beale showed his character by making a major contribution to the Sharks success while being forced into a number of roles and in a variety of positions.
Beale played alongside Feki on the left, sometimes at right side centre and on occasions on the left wing, wherever Flanagan needed him.
He also earned the respect of teammates and the coaching staff for the way he conducted himself, kept about his business and remained a positive influence on the team despite not starting every match in his preferred centre position.
Beale took part in 25 of 27 games during the 2016 season, with his experience and versatility a definite bonus for the coach in times of need.
Some players embrace the limelight, others do a job for their team and their coach without attracting nor looking for the headlines, with Beale definitely the later.
The fact that Beale carried out a role, performed to a high level, without the team missing a beat whenever he was on the field, speaks volumes for his abilities and professionalism.
Amongst those who do take notice are the Kiwi selectors, with Beale playing in the mid-year Trans-Tasman Test match for New Zealand, before being selected as a member of the Four Nations squad.
He more than held his own back in May and will do so again if and when called on during the Kiwi campaign at the Four Nations.
Although he crossed for five tries, some of the best Beale moments came when he created opportunities for others in his role as the ultimate team player.
One significant moment came against the Roosters in a match played at Allianz Stadium.
Shifting the ball on the last tackle Beale found himself in space, approaching the fullback and with decisions to make.
Rather than run and take the tackle or pass to his winger Sosaia Feki who was hemmed into the sideline, Beale chose to chip kick for his inside supports.
Perfectly weighted the ball sat up in the in-goal with Chad Townsend winning the race to the football, the halfback performing his special ‘dab’ post try celebration after touching down.
Beale may not have scored and while cameras or headlines didn’t feature him afterwards, he had again played an important role to perfection in a crucial moment in a big game.
Playing the majority of his matches on the Sharks right edge in 2015, Beale was a regular on the left side of the side’s attack throughout the Premiership run.
“I’ve always welcomed new challenges, for me I’ve played much of my football in the centres be it on the right or the left … (Sosaia) Feki’s such a great player, it’s just great to be out there.”
Year in Review: Gerard Beale*
Games played 2016 - 25
Off loads: 13
Tackle Busts: 34
Average run metres: 85.2
* Statistics via www.foxsports.com.au/nrl and Big League Magazine