The NSW Waratahs can confirm that Kurtley Beale will not return for Super Rugby AU, after being released from the remainder of his contract.
It was announced in May that Beale would not be returning to Daceyville in 2021 and following the COVID-19 shut down it’s been agreed that he take up that opportunity with immediate effect.
In his eleventh season for his home state, Beale has been an icon of the organization’s famous sky-blue jersey – equalling Benn Robinson’s all-time appearance record (148) in his final outing as a Waratah.
Beale leaves New South Wales having amassed 162 Super Rugby appearances – 14 of those for the Melbourne Rebels – in a career that has featured a Championship win (2014) and countless individual accolades.
At Test level, Beale has been a prominent feature in Wallaby gold, appearing 92 times right across the backline. A John Eales Medal winner in 2011, Beale has been a part of three Rugby World Cup campaigns (2011, 2015, 2019).
This season saw Beale take up the role of vice-captain under Rob Simmons, a position that saw him take an active role in guiding a young group of backs through the initial part of the season.
Beale paid tribute to teammates and support staff both past and present.
“I’ve spent most of my career in my home state representing the Waratahs, it’s been an honour,” Beale said.
“I’m thankful for the many great people I’ve met over the journey and will cherish the memories I’ve made over the last eleven seasons.
“It’s a bittersweet moment to be leaving a place you’ve called home for such a long time, but this is an exciting opportunity to play overseas and the time is right to begin the next chapter in my career.
“I wish the boys all the best for the domestic season, it’s an exciting time for this group with plenty of guys who will carry on the traditions of the Waratahs for years to come.”
NSW Waratahs Head Coach, Rob Penney praised Beale and his influence on the squad in his short time at the Waratahs.
“Kurtley is an extremely talented player and synonymous with rugby in Australia,” Penney said.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have him at the Waratahs for a large portion of his career and the influence he’s had over our organization’s success can’t be understated.
“He’s played a pivotal role in guiding through some of our younger guys this season, embracing his position as a senior player in the squad and contributing positively to what we’re trying to achieve as a group.
“The [COVID-19] shutdown has presented different situations for individuals and Kurtley heads overseas with our blessing and best wishes.”
Rugby Australia’s Director of Rugby, Scott Johnson said: “Kurtley has been a great contributor for Australian Rugby over many years and I know he still has the desire to represent his country. He remains eligible for the Wallabies and if his form warrants it he will certainly come into calculations for selection.
“Kurtley is aware of where he is at in his career and after deciding his future earlier in the year he is eager to get a head start with his new club. Under the current circumstances, we viewed that as a reasonable request and he leaves with our full support.”