SYDNEY - Kurtley Beale is more hoping than expecting to retain his gold No.10 jumper for next Saturday's Bledisloe Cup return bout after producing a mixed bag in the series opener in Sydney.
Beale's four penalty goals from five attempts ultimately earned Australia a 12-12 draw against the world champion All Blacks at ANZ Stadium.
But in difficult conditions for the playmakers, he also threw several wayward passes in the steady rain, including an intercept, and conceded a vital penalty for not releasing the ball with the Wallabies deep on attack midway through the first half.
While safe under the high ball, Beale came in for plenty of special attention from New Zealand and he was lucky they didn't score after dispossessing him in a heavy tackle after he soared to take a bomb in the opening minutes.
Pre-match, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he was "dumfounded" that his Wallabies counterpart opted for Beale to start his first Test at five-eighth in almost two years instead of sticking with incumbent Bernard Foley.
Austrlia coach Ewen McKenzie, though, said he wasn't unhappy with Beale's performance despite declining to guarantee the mercurial playmaker a start again next weekend at Auckland's Eden Park.
"I thought he was trying to make things happen, which is what we wanted and he goalkicked at 80 per cent," McKenzie said.
"It wasn't ideal conditions. It doesn't matter who you would have played, it was a difficult game."
Asked directly if Beale had done enough to keep his spot, McKenzie said he hadn't yet thought about it.
"There's a lot of guys battered and bruised in the dressing room, to be honest. We might be both fielding different teams."
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw best summed up how tough a night it was for the playmakers.
"With the greasy conditions, it was almost easier when you didn't have the ball because handling was tough," McCaw said.