SYDNEY, Australia -- Australia fullback Kurtley Beale agreed to an indefinite break from rugby on Thursday and will seek counselling after being sent home from South Africa for fighting with his Melbourne Rebels teammates.
Following the Rebels' 64-7 loss to the Sharks in Durban in the Super 15 last weekend, Beale punched captain Gareth Delve and winger Cooper Vuna. He and Vuna were ordered home.
Beale was fined an undisclosed "substantial" amount after admitting his guilt on Thursday, the Australian Rugby Union said.
He later told Fox Sports in a statement that drinking alcohol wasn't a major issue for him.
"I really don't think I have an alcohol problem but sometimes alcohol doesn't agree with me," he said. "In a controlled environment -- at a barbecue or at a restaurant -- I'm fine but, at other times, I make bad choices.
"I had no intent to hit Cooper or Gareth. It was very stupid and disrespectful. I asked for time and space to calm down and wasn't able to get it. I'm working hard to fix the problems. It is an ongoing battle for me."
The break means Beale, who has 36 caps since 2009, could be in jeopardy of missing out on the three-test visit by the British and Irish Lions in June and July.
"(Beale) knows he needs to be accountable for his actions, and he is determined to overcome the challenges he has faced in recent times," ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said.
Beale is already facing assault charges arising from an incident with a bouncer at a Brisbane nightclub last year.
"The unfortunate matter in South Africa was not an isolated incident for Kurtley," Pulver said. "He understands it was unacceptable and, most critically, acknowledges he needs to make changes."