Our game plan is not going to change
Melbourne's most infamous Rebel, Kurtley Beale, will start his comeback when he pulls on the green shirt of his senior club side Randwick.
Following discussions with the Australian Rugby Union and the Melbourne Rebels it was decided that Beale would make his return to action via the club scene.
As such, the Melbourne Rebels playmaker will run on at fullback for Randwick in this Saturday's away fixture against Sydney University.
It is almost three years since Beale last played for the Galloping Greens in the 2010 Shute Shield Grand Final, also against the Students.
This has already prompted reports in the Australian media that Beale will not return to Melbourne at all.
He is unlikely to feature for the Wallabies against the British and Irish Lions next month, as he has just this one appearance with the Galloping Greens to prove to Wallaby coach Robbie Deans and the selectors that he is ready for a return to the Test stage.
Randwick do not play again until the weekend after the final Australian squad is named on June 11.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald it also means a playing return for the Rebels is increasingly unlikely, even in their final game of the regular season, against the Highlanders on July 12.
And with strong speculation around a move to the Waratahs next season, Beale's standout performance against the Chiefs on May 3 looks to have been his parting gift to the Melbourne franchise.
Neither the ARU nor the player have made any guarantees to each other over Beale's Lions chances.
His repeated alcohol-fuelled off-field indiscretions - which include punching two teammates on a bus during the tour of South Africa - may prompt the ARU and Wallaby bosses to take a 'wait and see' attitude.
Playing down Beale's return, Randwick coach Wade Kelly said the players will be "excited", but it's not all about Beale.
"Each player does their own thing and Kurtley will slot in nicely at the back," Kelly said.
"He will enjoy it while he's here but our game plan is not going to change."
As well as providing a boost for Randwick, Kelly said that Beale's return is a positive reminder to players involved in the Shute Shield that the competition continues to serve as a breeding ground for Super Rugby talent.
"Representative footy is the next level for these boys and if they can play well then, like Kurtley, they will be picked up.
"The opportunities in this sport are vast and constantly growing, not only here but overseas as well."
There is no doubt Beale is near his best when ensconced in a disciplined team environment. His progress during the year-end tour last year is a case in point.
After a year marred by injury and an assault charge that was settled by arbitration out of court only in April this year, Beale arrived on the November tour some way off peak physical condition.
But his fitness, confidence and performance steadily improved throughout the four-week tour of Europe and culminated in him scoring the match-winning try in the dying seconds of the Wallabies' final Test against Wales in Cardiff.
This season was again marred by controversy, with Beale serving a four-match ban for punching Rebels captain Gareth Delve and teammate Cooper Vuna in South Africa in March.
He served out the ban in Sydney, but kept fit training with Deans and ARU rehabilitation co-ordinator Terry Condon.
Returning for the Rebels as a second-half substitute against the Chiefs, Beale scored one try and sparked a comeback that fell just short. His place among Deans's first few Wallabies picks appeared assured.
However, one night later, after driving friends to and from a Melbourne Storm match, he went to a party at a teammate's house and consumed alcohol in breach of the conditions imposed on him by the Rebels and the ARU.
A week later he checked himself into a facility for treatment of his alcoholism.