Kurtley Beale has revealed he’s likely to remain in Australian rugby beyond this year’s World Cup in Britain, while Wallabies captain Michael Hooper admits he can’t imagine playing anywhere else.
In a huge boost to the ARU as it moves to head off a mass player exodus at year’s end, Beale on Thursday offered his strongest indication yet he would follow Hooper in recommitting to the NSW Waratahs and, with that, the Wallabies.
In the sights of cashed-up NRL and European and Japanese rugby clubs, Beale says he feels settled at the Super Rugby champions.
“I’m loving my game here in Australia and I’m loving playing with the Waratahs,” he said.
“There’s a really good club culture here. I love being a part of it.”
The classy playmaker said last week’s appointment of attack coach Daryl Gibson as Michael Cheika’s replacement at the Waratahs for the next three Super Rugby seasons had given him added comfort and security.
“Obviously when ‘Gibsy’ got the head coach for next year, it’s definitely given me a lot of confidence in what I want to do with my rugby down the future,” Beale said.
“It’s definitely a big bonus, but it’s really up to me and my partner.
“We’re pretty focused on that and we’ll try and get an answer on that soon, as soon as possible.”
Beale’s revelation of leaning towards staying put will be a big relief to the ARU after the midfielder’s future in Australian rugby was very much in the balance after he was fined $45,000 last year by the governing body.
But the 26-year-old has put the saga surrounding his confrontation with former Wallabies business manager Di Patston behind him to again be one of the Waratahs’ best performers this season.
Code-hopping superstar Israel Folau is also among some 20-odd Test players off contract at the end of 2015.
But Beale said he was hoping he could continue his on-field relationship with his Waratahs and Wallabies teammate beyond this year.
“Obviously, he’s a very talented player and one of the best players I’ve played with in a long time,” Beale said.
“As a group, we all love playing with guys like Izzy. Guys step up with him and we’re able to play some really good football.
“He’s a great team player and hopefully we’ll be able to continue that.”
Hooper says he has no idea what Folau’s intentions are.
“But what I do know is he’s enjoying his time here and he’s playing some electric footy and he’ll excel at whatever he does,” Hooper said.
“As players, we can do our best to try and keep him.
“We’ve got some great friendships with him; everyone in the team does, and we really enjoy seeing him running around.
“But at the end of the day, he’s an individual and we respect any decision he makes, and we hope that decision’s with the Waratahs.”
Still only 23, Hooper insisted any overseas move for him in the future was “not on my radar”.
“I’m really enjoying what I’ve got here at the moment,” the flanker said.
“It’s tough, it’s hard work, but I’m loving it.
“I’m a young guy. I couldn’t think of anything much better, so I’m happy.”