Rugby: Kurtley Beale may become highest paid player in England

Kurtley Beale may be headed offshore for a record price. Photo / Getty
Kurtley Beale may be headed offshore for a record price. Photo / Getty

New South Wales Waratahs have desperately urged Australia star Kurtley Beale not to leave following reports he has signed a two-year deal with Aviva Premiership side Wasps worth a staggering £1.5 million.

It would make him the highest-paid player in England.

A report in today's Times claims Beale has agreed to join Dai Young's side in Coventry for next season. It has been suggested that the 27-year-old has been signed as an inside centre rather than full-back.

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has been quick to play down Beale's supposed England move, though, insisting the long-rumoured transfer is "unconfirmed". And he has called on the in-form Beale to stay in Sydney.

"It's unconfirmed at this stage and as far as I'm concerned he's still staying. I can't add anything more than I already know and that is that he's still undecided," Gibson told The Sydney Morning Herald.

"For us we'd love him to stay. He's been playing spectacularly well and I'm sure in his own mind he knows that it's going to be a difficult decision for him.

"I know what we can provide here and we've got to hope that he can see that as well."

Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper was unaware of reports about Beale's departure when it was put to him that the utility back could be going, but added it would be a massive loss if true.

"Happy for him as an individual," Hooper said. "The ability to make those decisions is all part of rugby, but for me selfishly, probably disappointing.

"This thing isn't just a flash in the pan, it's been going on for a while and he's been playing great on the field despite that."

Asked whether a player of Beale's calibre could be easily replaced, Hooper added: "No. You can't replace Kurtley Beale, you get something different."

Beale's 60 international caps mean he would still be eligible for Wallabies selection even if he is playing club rugby abroad.

Meanwhile, if Wasps do sign Beale as a centre it means they are still in the market for a No 15, with Charles Piutau joining Ulster next season.

Leigh Halfpenny, currently plying his trade in France with Toulon, is reportedly Wasps' No 1 target but they will face stiff competition from Cardiff Blues.

Halfpenny's Toulon team-mate Quade Cooper could also be playing in the Premiership next season following news the Australia international's representatives have been sounding out interest from English clubs.

Highest Premiership earners:

1. Kurtley Beale - Wasps - £750,000 (when confirmed)

2. Manu Tuilagi - Leicester - £425,000

3. Louis Picamoles - Northampton - £420,000

4. Matt Toomua - Leicester - £400,000

5. John Afoa - Gloucester - £390,000

6. Ben Te'o - Worcester - £360,000

- Daily Telegraph UK

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