Sydney - Star Wallaby back Kurtley Beale will be out for four to six months after scans revealed a serious knee injury that requires surgery, the New South Wales Waratahs said on Sunday.
Beale fell awkwardly going for a high ball in the opening minute of the Waratahs' 31-8 Super Rugby win over South Africa's Northern Bulls in Sydney on Saturday.
Beale, 27, had only just signed a lucrative deal to play with Wasps next season which would make him the highest-paid player in the English Premiership.
There were initial fears of Beale being sidelined for potentially up to a year, jeopardising his Wasps commitment, with Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson describing it as a "significant" knee injury.
"Beale is likely to be sidelined for four to six months with scans revealing his patella tendon has torn from his patella," the club said in a statement Sunday.
"The result is the best possible prognosis given the tendon remains intact, requiring less invasive surgery, and that the injury is isolated with no other damage to the knee."
Beale is scheduled to undergo knee surgery on Monday.
Beale will miss the Wallabies' three-Test home series against England next month and the remainder of the Super Rugby season with the Waratahs.
Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper said it was a huge blow to see such an influential player as Beale leave the field so early in Saturday's game.
"That's a significant shock and a significant hit to have so early on in the game -- more just emotionally feeling for him," Hooper said.
"No one likes to see a team-mate go off immediately. That was hard."
Coach Gibson said the Waratahs would badly miss Beale's play-making skills for the rest of the campaign.
"At this part of the year, particularly with the sparkling form he's in, he's certainly a big part of our attack and to have that taken away (is hard)," Gibson said.
On Friday, Gibson said he was still hopeful of keeping Beale at the Waratahs, but after news that night of his departure to Wasps the coach is now more upset that he might not get a proper send-off from fans.
"I'm disappointed to see him go, but I can fully understand his reasons and I think when a player leaves here we spoke at length earlier about making sure he signs off on the correct way," Gibson said.
"The disappointing thing for me with his injury is that he won't have the opportunity to do that."