Australia's full-back Kurtley Beale runs in a try during the rugby union international Test match against Wales November 11, 2017
London (AFP) - Australia’s Kurtley Beale said he had been taken aback at becoming a social media sensation after a picture of him posing in his swimminunks alongside Britain’s Prince William went viral.
The Wallaby playmaker was preparing for an ice bath following Australia’s 29-21 win over Wales in Cardiff last Saturday when Prince William, also known as the Duke of Cambridge, walked in to the visitors’ dressing room to offer congratulations in his role as patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.
Beale shared the photograph with some 66,000 Instagram followers alongside the caption: “When you rock up to the party feeling a little over dressed.”
Meanwhile basketball great Shaquille O’Neal altered the photo to impose his own face on the image, sharing it with his millions of followers.
“I didn’t really realise how much it was going to take off,” Beale told reporters on Monday. “It’s a bit of a surprise for me.
“It was pretty lucky. He (the Duke) came in the sheds and said g’day to the boys, which was pretty cool.
“I just came from the recovery room. I recover in ice baths. I love playing in my budgie smugglers (trunks), so they were the last things that I was wearing.
“I just happened to be taking it easy and it was pretty good to have a yarn with him in the sheds. It’s always special when you meet royalty.”
Beale could have another royal encounter on Saturday, when Australia play England at Twickenham, as Prince Harry, the Duke’s younger brother, is patron of the English Rugby Football Union.
Australia knocked England out of the 2015 World Cup with a victory at Twickenham but they have lost their last four matches against a Red Rose side coached by former Wallaby boss Eddie Jones.
Beale, who missed all those 2016 Tests with a knee injury, has had a close-range view of many of this weekend’s opponents as a result of playing with Wasps in the English Premiership.
“In the Premiership there is a huge focus around going forwards and being physical up front to lay that platform for your backs,” Beale said. “England have always had that dominant forward pack and they’re pretty smart and creative around that set-piece.
“We’ve definitely got the work cut out for ourselves. It’s something we’ll be working really hard to try to nullify,” he added.
England come into the game with an unconvincing 21-8 victory over Argentina, having lost just once in 21 Tests under Australian boss Jones.
Australia are enjoying something of a revival under coach Michael Cheika, having recently beaten two-time reigning world champions New Zealand as they too, like England, build towards the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
“It’s exciting times for us, as a playing group, a young group,” Beale said. “Coming up against a pretty good English team is going to be a great test for us.”