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    Wasps break bank to sign Beale

    2016-05-14 21:02

    London - Australia's Kurtley Beale could become English club rugby's first 'million-dollar man' after Premiership side Wasps announced on Friday he would be joining them for the 2016/17 season as their "overseas marquee signing".

    Although the initial contract is only for one season, it is understood that 27-year-old utility back Beale will have the option to sign an extension.

    Beale will arrive in Europe from the Waratahs following the end of their involvement in the 2016 Super Rugby club competition, a move that will rule him out of Australia's subsequent home three-Test series with England in June.

    But as a 60-cap international he has the minimum number of appearances for overseas-based internationals who still want to represent Australia.

    His deal is worth reportedly in excess of £700 000 - a figure which, if accurate, would make him the highest-paid player in Premiership history, with his salary eclipsing the £500 000 Bath paid to rugby league convert Sam Burgess.

    Each of the 12 Premiership clubs is allowed to sign two marquee players whose wages are not included in the £6.5 million salary cap for the 2016/17 season.

    Beale helped the Wallabies, who knocked England out along the way, reach last year's Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham where Australia were beaten by New Zealand.

    At Wasps he could play at inside centre alongside former Melbourne Rebels team-mate Danny Cipriani at flyhalf.

    "There are very few players in world rugby who can really excite people and get spectators on the edge of their seats," said Wasps director of rugby Dai Young in a club statement.

    "Kurtley Beale is one of those rare talents,"

    Meanwhile Young said he hoped Beale could be as much of an influence at Wasps as Australia great George Smith had been this season.

    "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, however, has a chequered disciplinary record that includes a spell in counselling for alcohol-related problems after punching Rebels team-mate Gareth Delve in 2013 and a fine a year for sending an offensive text to Australia team business manager Di Patston.

    Now based at Coventry's Ricoh Arena in the English Midlands, former London club Wasps will face Exeter in the semi-finals of the English Premiership playoffs next weekend, having also reached the last four of this season's European Champions Cup before losing to domestic rivals Saracens.

    "It's going to be difficult to leave the Waratahs at the end of this season - I first joined the 'Tahs when I was 16 and have loved every minute of it, but I feel the time is right to make this move," said Beale.

    He added: "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," said Beale of a move that provides further evidence of the financial clout of major northern hemisphere clubs compared to their southern hemisphere counterparts.

    "Wasps are a big club with a great coaching staff and a very talented playing roster. I am only 27 now and I know my best footy is ahead of me, both at club and Test level.

    "I want to win trophies with Wasps in the Premiership and Europe and continue playing for the Wallabies.

    "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."

    Before Beale's long-talked about move was confirmed, Waratahs captain Michael Hooper told the Sydney Morning Herald: "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 if the gifted Beale could be replaced, Hooper replied: "No. You can't replace Kurtley Beale, you get something different."

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