Kurtley Beale suffered a possible season-ending knee injury as the NSW Waratahs shot to the top of the Australian conference on Saturday night with a 31-8 Super Rugby triumph over the Bulls.
Beale lasted just 40 seconds before being stretchered off after landing awkwardly on his left knee on the newly laid surface at Allianz Stadium.
In a potentially major blow for the Waratahs’ title hopes – and also the Wallabies ahead of next month’s three-Test series with England – the star centre was taken to hospital for scans.
The injury came the day after he signed a multi-million-dollar two-year deal to join Wasps that will reportedly make the 27-year-old the highest-paid player in the English premiership.
Early reports indicated Beale had sustained a patella tendon injury or posterior cruciate tear.
If it’s serious, Beale might have played his last match for the Waratahs unless he returns to Sydney after his stint in the English Midlands.
Youngster David Horwitz at least showed there was life after Beale for the Tahs with a strong game after replacing the backline linchpin and forging a nice centre partnership with Israel Folau.
Halfback Nick Phipps, though, was the undoubted match winner with two tries and an assist.
Phipps received a standing ovation after scoring the opener in the 35th minute, then putting flanker Dean Mumm over just after halftime and seemingly clinching the bonus point after backing up Folau to dive over under the posts with 10 minutes remaining.
A try to Bulls replacement Dries Swanepoel two minutes later threatened to deny NSW the all-important bonus point but reserve prop Angus Ta’avao forced his way over in the dying stages to ensure the Waratahs leapfrogged the Brumbies on the competition table.