NSW coach Daryl Gibson fears the Waratahs may be the first big losers out of Giteau’s Law as Australia’s 2014 Super Rugby champions fight desperately to retain backline ace Kurtley Beale.
Gibson is sweating on Beale choosing stability and lifestyle over money as the Wallabies star weighs up his playing future.
Gibson admits the Waratahs – and presumably the Australian Rugby Union too – can’t compete with London Wasps’ reported $1.35 million offer a season for Beale.
With 60 Tests to his credit – exactly the number required to remain eligible for the Wallabies while playing overseas – Beale is free to cash in and also continue his international career.
The ARU introduced such dispensation last year primarily to have the likes of France-based Giteau, Drew Mitchell and George Smith available for the Rugby World Cup, which proved a success as the Wallabies charged through to the final.
Previously, any players not plying their trade in Australia were ineligible for Test selection.
“More and more of these situations are going to come up: the fact that rich European clubs can come with bigger cheque books to tempt our best players away,” Gibson said on Thursday.
“That’s a fact of life. What we can offer is that environment. That’s what we can sell.
“We pride ourselves on those factors and we can only just wait and do our best to keep our key players.
“I guess if Kurtley does leave, the Waratahs are the unlucky losers in all of it.”
With champion 55-Test flanker David Pocock set to collect his 60th cap this year and another target of rich European and Japanese clubs, Australian rugby is also in serious danger of losing its most prized asset.
Pocock is among several Wallabies edging towards 60 Tests, leaving fans wondering if ARU chief Bill Pulver has opened a Pandora’s box with the eligibility rule change that was hailed as win-win when it was implemented last April.
In the prime of a career littered with off-field controversies, Beale has turned his life around since returning to the Waratahs in 2014 after an ill-fated two-season stint with the Melbourne Rebels.
Gibson has spoken to Beale and says ultimately it’s the 27-year-old’s decision whether he wants to move to England and potentially reunite with former Rebels teammate Danny Cipriani after the pair often landed in hot water together in Melbourne.
“Obviously Kurtley’s got some big decisions coming up in the near future,” Gibson said.
“We’ve got an environment here that we’re proud of. We provide a very stable nurturing place for him and he’s done well and I’m sure he’ll consider all those factors when he makes a decision.
“Right now he’s training the house down and playing particularly well for NSW.
“It would be really disappointing to see him go and we’re doing everything we can to keep him.”