Kurtley Beale has reportedly signed a deal with Wasps which will make him the highest paid player in England. Reports in The Times in London indicate Beale will become the biggest earner in English rugby after agreeing to a deal worth $A2.96 m (£1.5m).
The two-year deal, starting from next season, looms is a major blow for Australian rugby, with the 27-year-old utility back one of the country’s most exciting players. He has been in sparkling form for the NSW Waratahs in Super Rugby this season.
However, Beale’s 60 Test caps do mean he will be eligible to return and play for the Wallabies while playing club rugby abroad. Beale could be joined in England next season by fellow Wallaby back Quade Cooper, with a number of English club reportedly interested in the mercurial five-eighth, who has been out of favour at French club Toulon.
Waratahs captain Michael Hooper admits Beale will be impossible to replace, with his departure a massive blow for the 2014 Super Rugby champions. “You can’t replace Kurtley Beale,” Hooper said before the Waratahs’ captain’s run on Friday. “You get something different and that’s with rugby what we’ll be chasing.”
Hooper said he was gutted at the news, which caught him by surprise on Friday. “I’m happy for him as an individual. The ability to make those decisions is all part of rugby but, for me, selfishly it’s probably disappointing,” he said. “I love playing with Kurtley. I love having him in the environment here in the team but hopefully I’ll be able to play with him a lot more in the future.”
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson was still holding out hope that the 27-year-old would stay in Sydney. “It’s unconfirmed,” he said. “Obviously for Kurtley it’s a big decision. He’s got to decide between staying in Australia and a really supportive environment or going overseas and playing his rugby over there. For us, we’d love him to stay. That hasn’t changed.”
“He’s been playing spectacularly well and I’m sure in his own mind he knows that it’s going to be a difficult decision for him. The fact the sun is shining, it’s a beautiful blue day here and he’s enjoying his rugby and, I guess for him, those decisions will weigh heavily on him.”