BRISBANE - Serial offender Kurtley Beale is facing a heavy blow — to his pay packet and Wallabies selection prospects — after his latest drunken indiscretion.
Beale's days as a Melbourne Rebels player appear short-lived while he also looks to have blown his chances of starting for Australia against the British and Irish Lions in June.
Off-contract this year, the star back's future in rugby union is now under a dark cloud following his scuffle with Rebels teammate Cooper Vuna in Durban on the weekend.
Both Wallabies backs were due to return to Australia on Monday, on separate flights, to face a Rebels investigation.
But it's Beale who's in the deepest water as it seems the incident is the last straw for a club who has lost patience with their highly-paid playmaker's continued issues with alcohol.
Australian Rugby Union and Rebels officials are currently deciding who will head the disciplinary process into the incident but it's certain Beale will ultimately face an ARU tribunal for breaching the players' code of conduct.
Melbourne officials are deeply unhappy with the behaviour of their problem child and are prepared to throw the book at him.
The Rebels have shown they're willing to take a hard line on marquee players, suspending Danny Cipriani for six weeks for alcohol-related misdemeanours in 2011 before letting him go last year.
A prolonged suspension would severely hurt Beale's Test chances when Wallabies coach Robbie Deans names his 25-man squad for the Lions on June 1.
Already sidelined for the past three weeks with a broken hand, a hefty ban has major ramifications for the 24-year-old as it could rule him out of selection, or leave him well short of match fitness.
The latest incident occurred when a dishevelled Beale abused Rebels skipper Gareth Delve after the Welsh No.8 told him to put his shirt back on on the bus back to their north Durban hotel following the 64-7 loss to the Sharks.
Vuna intervened and was punched by Beale, before retaliating and felling the five-eighth.
Vuna was congratulated for his actions by now-retired foundation player Michael Lipman on Twitter on Monday.
Lipmann responded to Vuna's pre-flight tweet 'Long trip home!' with: "I hope you upgraded to 1st class my man! Champagne on ice and caviar flowing - #Legend".
Foundation Rebels coach Rod Macqueen did not want to comment about Beale on Monday but did say Vuna had been a "model" professional for the club over the past 12 months.
There has been speculation Beale was set to return to the NSW Waratahs after this season, and it seems the Rebels will now put most of their energies into retaining vice-captain James O'Connor.
Beale has also lost a large measure of his bargaining power with the Waratahs and the ARU.
He's already facing potential sanctions for allegedly punching a bouncer at a Brisbane hotel last June.
The matter remains before the courts but because of an on-again, off-again mediation process he was allowed to play for the Wallabies late last season.