Australia's Beale signs two-year Waratahs deal

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 05:29
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NEWS: Utility back Kurtley Beale has signed a two-year deal with the Australian Rugby Union and Waratahs after rejecting a lucrative contract at England's Wasps to focus on the 2019 World Cup.

Beale, 28, is reportedly the Premiership's highest-paid player, and with 60 caps he would be eligible for Wallabies selection even if he remains in England.

But Beale, who earlier announced his departure from Wasps at the end of the season, said Australia was a better place for him as the World Cup in Japan looms.

"It's great to be heading back to Australian Rugby. I'm really looking forward to getting back home to the Waratahs, but also hopefully pull on the gold jersey later this year as well," he said in an ARU statement on Friday.

"I think the best place for me and my rugby right now is in Australia and I love what Cheik [Australia coach Michael Cheika] is doing with the Wallabies.

"I have to say thank you to Wasps though, for the opportunity they have given me and my partner and I have learned a lot about rugby and myself. It's been a great experience."

Cheika said both the Waratahs and Australia were set to gain from the experience of Beale, a key member of the team that reached the 2015 World Cup Final.

"Even though he's only been gone a year, it's a very different Wallabies team now but he will have an important role to play for Australia and the Waratahs as well," Cheika said.

"He has obviously learned a lot from his time overseas so I'll be looking for him to help the team reach higher standards this year."

Beale, whose Wasps debut on a one-year deal was delayed until December while he recovered from injury, has played a pivotal role in their concerted push for European and domestic honours this season.

"I came very close to agreeing a new contract with Wasps, but I believe to achieve my international rugby aspirations I need to be back home in Australia," he said in a Wasps statement released earlier.

"To be able to wear the Wallaby jersey again would be the greatest privilege, and at this stage of my career I want to give myself the best opportunity of representing Australia in the 2019 Rugby World Cup."

Agence France-Presse