Kurtley Beale has said he can’t wait to pull on the jersey for English rugby side Wasps, after the club confirmed the Australian’s signing for the 2016-17 season.
Beale, who has amassed 60 international caps, is understood to have agreed a one-year contract with the option for a 12-month extension if his initial spell at the Ricoh Arena proves to be a success.
“There are very few players in world rugby who can really excite people and get spectators on the edge of their seats. Kurtley Beale is one of those rare talents,” Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said.
Beale is due to arrive at the club upon completion of the Waratahs’ current Super Rugby campaign, effectively ruling him out of Australia’s three-Test series against England in June.
Signing one of the most gifted playmakers of his generation is a major coup, but the club has had to break the bank to entice him, with his annual salary reported to be worth in excess of STG700,000 ($A1.38 million).
If the figure is accurate it makes him the highest-earning player in Premiership history, eclipsing the STG500,000 paid to rugby league convert Sam Burgess.
Beale has been earmarked for inside centre where he will play in tandem with incoming five-eighth and former Rebels teammate Danny Cipriani, but he has filled most positions across the back line.
“Every time Kurtley gets the ball in his hands, you can sense the anticipation among those watching that something is going to happen,” Young said.
“Kurtley has been part of many successful environments and the experience he will bring should help the squad in a similar way to how George Smith and Charles Piutau have this season.”
Beale said he was looking forward to pulling on the Wasps jersey.
“It’s going to be difficult to leave the Waratahs at the end of this season – I first joined the Waratahs when I was 16 and have loved every minute of it, but I feel the time is right to make this move,” he said.
“There was a lot to weigh up when making the decision, but I have always loved playing in England and the recent World Cup was an amazing experience. The passion for the game in Europe is huge and I want to be a part of it.”
The 27-year-old, who will remain eligible for Test selection due to holding the 60 caps outlined as the minimum requirement if overseas-based Wallabies are to be considered, said his best playing days were ahead of him.
“I want to win trophies with Wasps in the Premiership and Europe and continue playing for the Wallabies,” he said.
“It’s a privilege every time you get to pull on that Test jersey and if I’m lucky enough to be selected for Australia in the future, I’ll be ready.”