Kurtley Beale’s Super Rugby season is over, ruled out for up to six months with a patella tendon injury.
Beale was stretchered off 41 seconds into the Waratahs’ 31-8 win over the Bulls on Saturday night with a ruptured patella tendon and will go into surgery on Monday, before beginning a four-to-six-month rehab.
The prognosis means he has played his final game for the Waratahs before a move to England's Wasps and would also rule him out of the majority, if not all, Wallabies Tests this season.
It is a more positive outcome than initially expected, with the worst of these injuries requiring a year's long rehab..
While the Waratahs should have been savouring their most significant win of the year, putting them on top of the Australian conference for the first time, it was sympathy for a much-loved teammate that overrode that.
Scrumhalf Nick Phipps, speaking after the match, said it wouldn’t be easy to get past the news.
“(He) just doesn’t deserve that,” he said.
“That’s something we’ve got to move past and get over pretty quickly because we’ve got some big games coming up, but the boys will take a few weeks to get over that, a long time actually.
“There’s a lot of great players around the world who don’t really have that aura around the club.
“He’s the guy that gets you up when you’re down, always happy having a laugh. His rugby mind is just second to none.”
While he won’t be on the field, Phipps said the Waratahs would have Beale in their minds as they run out in the final five games of the season.
“He’s someone everyone will be having a think about when they’re on the field not only wishing he was out there but trying to perform to reward him for what he’s done for this club in this last year."
The injury will be worrying his new club, as well, with the potential for Beale to miss up to 12 months, though Phipps said retaining Beale should be a no-brainer for Wasps.
“I’d imagine he’s signed the contract to go so hopefully it doesn’t get messy,” he said.
“If they were going to miss out on him for maybe the rest of the year then that’s a small price to pay for a player of his quality at their club.”
The Waratahs sit one point clear on top of the Australian conference, with a game in hand over the second-placed Brumbies, after taking a bonus point at the death and Phipps said it was a sign
Their run home won’t make hanging on to that lead easy, kicking off with a Friday night trip to Christchurch to face the Crusaders and Phipps said they would be focusing on that next challenge.
“Playing Kiwi teams is so different to playing South African teams so we’re going to be doing a lot of work this week on what they’re going to bring and what style the Kiwis play with,” he said.
“I think that’s our greatest strength, with big Daryl Gibson an ex-kiwi floating around, he knows exactly what’s going on.”