Dan Walsh, Staff Writer
With three knee reconstructions and enough time spent on the sidelines to last him a lifetime, Dragons centre Gerard Beale knows just how important a healthy and active lifestyle is.
And as an ambassador for the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, the Dragons three-quarter was on hand to drive that message home at the launch of the institute's national 'Step-a-thon for Kids' campaign, encouraging primary schoolers across the country to exercise and keep active, while at the same time raising vital funds for child health research.
Off the back of more than 19,000 kids "making every step count" in the event's inaugural year in 2013, Beale joined the likes of campaign ambassador Sarah Murdoch, former Olympic sprinter Matt Shirvington and Nova FM's Fitzy and Wippa in encouraging kids to get out and about.
"I'm a big believer in a healthy and active lifestyle and obviously having the knee injuries you get to appreciate how good it is just to be able to get out and run around," Beale told NRL.com.
"This is such a great cause, and it's good to spread the word and encourage all the kids out there are to make the right choices and live a healthy, proactive lifestyle."
Beale, whose two-year-old son Nixon was joined by baby sister Maxwell a few weeks ago, says his growing family played a big part in him joining the Murdoch Institute's cause.
"I'm already chasing Nixon around now, he's full-on, and when the younger one starts I want to give them the best life possible and a healthy and active lifestyle is the best way to do that," Beale says.
"The Step-a-thon, and the message we're trying to get out there is a great step for the future and I can only see it growing bigger and bigger in the future."
Having played every game of the year after a third ACL injury limited him to just five appearances in 2013, the 25-year-old Kiwi centre is full of running himself, crossing for his ninth four-pointer of the season in the Dragons' 28-12 defeat of the Tigers.
The return of Brett Morris from the shoulder injury sustained in Origin I, alongside Beale's nine line breaks and 105 metres per game, gives the Dragons a left-edge attack to be reckoned with, and Beale couldn't be happier about seeing the familiar face outside him.
"It's unreal having B-Moz back," Beale says. "He adds that extra spark to the team. His running game and what he can do in the air is just awesome.
"I'm lucky to have him outside me there; we know each other and each other's games quite well.
"I know it was killing him watching from the sidelines, but he's such a great player and he's slotted straight back in and added a lot to our team."
The Dragons will need every ounce of firepower at their disposal come Saturday night when they take on the Roosters off the back of a shock 16-12 loss to Newcastle, with the premiers welcoming back Blues three-quarter Michael Jennings from injury.
"There's going to be a lot of personal match-ups, position-wise, and it's going to be a good challenge.
"To be the best you want to play the best, and they're the reigning premiers and have an exciting backline, so we'll have our hands full.
"You know they're going to come out a lot harder than last week coming off a loss.
"Especially because they are such a quality side they're going to be very tough, especially at home, so we're going to have to be ready come Saturday night."