Troubled Wallaby star Kurtley Beale has agreed to stand down indefinitely and has been fined an undisclosed sum after punching two of his Melbourne Rebels team-mates, the Australian Rugby Union said on Thursday.
The ARU said the wayward back had agreed he needed to deal with his off-field issues before returning to the game.
It said Beale had also accepted a substantial fine over the South African incident after admitting his guilt and forgoing the opportunity to have his case heard by an ARU disciplinary hearing.
“This is an important step for Kurtley and ARU feels an obligation to assist in ensuring, regardless of rugby, that he moves forward in a positive manner,” ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said in a statement.
“He knows he needs to be accountable for his actions and he is determined to overcome the challenges he has faced in recent times.
“The unfortunate matter in South Africa was not an isolated incident for Kurtley. He understands it was unacceptable and, most critically, acknowledges he needs to make changes.”
Pulver said Beale is “an incredibly talented rugby player” who two years ago won the John Eales Medal as the Wallabies’ best player.
A date for Beale to resume playing has not been set and assessments will be made on a progressive basis, the ARU said.
Beale and wing Cooper Vuna were sent home in disgrace for their part in the incident after the Rebels’ record 64-7 loss to the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
Reports have emerged that Vuna intervened after Beale punched skipper Gareth Delve on the team bus after a nightclub outing following Melbourne’s loss.
Reports said Beale, who recently had hand surgery, had been told by Delve to put a shirt back on as the bus approached the team hotel, but he responded by arguing and then punching the Welshman.
Vuna then reportedly became involved and traded blows with Beale.
Vuna apologised on Wednesday and will be available for the game against Western Force in Perth the following weekend.
Beale was in trouble last year after he was allegedly involved in an altercation with a security guard after he and Wallabies team-mate Quade Cooper were refused entry to a Brisbane pub.
He was granted bail to attend mediation after appearing in court charged with common assault.
The Rebels will face the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.