Kurtley Beale will return to Australia and the NSW Waratahs, signing a new deal until the end of 2019.
Beale overnight confirmed his departure from English club Wasps, opting against extending his one-year deal with the Coventry side, returning to Australia,
Though, with 60 Tests, he could play for the Wallabies from anywhere, the lure of a larger role in the Tests and playing at home leading into the 2019 World Cup tipped his decision over.
Beale will return to the Waratahs for the 2018 season, with his Wasps season finishing in May.
“I signed a one-year deal from the outset to enable me to keep my options open. I came very close to agreeing a new contract with Wasps, but I believe to achieve my international rugby aspirations I need to be back home in Australia,” he said in a Wasps statement overnight.
“To be able to wear the Wallaby jersey again would be the greatest privilege and at this stage of my career I want to give myself the best opportunity of representing Australia in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“The vision Cheik [Michael Cheika] has for the Wallabies is really exciting and is something I really want to be part of and contribute to.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika spoke earlier this week about Beale, describing his chances of returning as ‘50-50’ but laying out the plans he had for the utility should he return.
Cheika said Beale would return to play a larger role in the Wallabies set up.
“It's great for Australian rugby that we have Kurtley coming back to play his club footy on home soil.”
“Even though he's only been gone a year, it's a very different Wallabies team now but he will have an important role to play for Australia and the Waratahs as well.
“He has obviously learned a lot from his time overseas so I'll be looking for him to help the team reach higher standards this year,
Beale would be the front runner to step into the starting number 12 spot for the Wallabies after coming back, moving away from the utility role he made his own in the Rugby World Cup.
With Matt Giteau unlikely to play again for the Wallabies, Beale would be the obvious replacement, after rookie Reece Hodge filled the role in the back end of the season.
Beale joined Wasps late last year and did most of his rehab from a knee injury at the English club before making his debut in December.\
NSW CEO Andrew Hore said Beale would boost the team on and off the field.
“Kurtley came through the NSW Rugby Union ranks through schoolboy rugby at St Joseph’s College and went on to be a valuable team member of the NSW Waratahs,” he said.
“He’ll bring to the team great on-field leadership and add more experience to an already expansive attacking threat.
“We are pleased for Kurtley that he had the opportunity to gain the international experience and we look forward to welcoming him back into the fold in 2018."