THE OPPORTUNITY to taste a different culture and play in front of passionate English supporters proved too much to turn down for Australian superstar Kurtley Beale as began life as a Wasps player.
The 27-year-old became the highest paid player in Aviva Premiership history after agreeing to move to the Ricoh Arena on an initial one-year deal, with an option for a 12-month extension.
Beale met up with his new team mates last week as he adapts to life in England and he revealed a conversation with fellow Australian and former Wasps star Ben Jacobs helped seal one of the biggest transfers in the world of rugby in recent years.
“I was really good mates with Ben Jacobs and I know he’s obviously retired now but he spoke very highly of the Wasps and spoke some nice words of encouragement,” said Beale.
“He said a lot of nice things about the club so it made me think about it and it’s certainly helped me make the decision in the end.
“There’s a lot of history with Wasps rugby and over the last couple of years they’ve had some really good quality players coming through. Their roster has been awesome and to be able to get an opportunity to come over and play at a huge club like the Wasps who have a really strong tradition, there was no other choice really.
“To actually experience another culture and an exciting brand of rugby that they’re starting to play, I felt that was very fitting for me. “
A controversial move to Coventry has seen Wasps grow from strength to strength on the pitch, with many tipping Dai Young’s side to challenge for the Premiership title while also pitting themselves among the best in Europe too.
And Beale is looking forward to tasting the atmosphere at the Ricoh Arena and showing the Wasps fan is ‘X Factory’ brand of rugby.
“Ben (Jacobs) was telling me about the Wasps fan base, it’s certainly something I’m looking forward to when running out for the first time.
“They’re very passionate. They’re very vocal. I think that’s what rugby supporters should be and it’s certainly a huge attraction for a lot of players coming from the Southern Hemisphere because you don’t really get that type of crowd.
“It’s something that I’m looking forward to and hopefully I’ll be able to repay them for their support out on the football pitch when I get the opportunity.
“I think it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity. I consider Wasps to be huge threat in Europe so for me to be able to come up and contribute and bring something to the team is exciting.
“It will be a bit more challenging with me bringing in a different style but that all comes with the challenge and I’m really looking forward to challenging myself with my team mates.”
Wasps fans are in for a long wait before they see their new man in action as Beale continues to recover from a knee injury he picked up while in action for former club Australian Super Rugby side Waratah earlier this year.
A torn patella tendon ruled Beale out of action for around six months, which means he will miss the start of the new season which begins this Sunday against Exeter and the Australian is itching to return to action.
“The first three months of my rehab was quite tough. The surgeon said I’m in a really good position to push forward with my rehab.
“I’ve met the medical staff here at Wasps and we’re going to work out a plan. At the moment there is no date set but I think the main focus for me is to just really focus on my rehab and try not to think about the end of the tunnel too much.
“There’s obviously a lot of hard work to go. The injury was pretty major. I haven’t really suffered anything like that before so I really want to work hard and try not to miss out any gaps so that when I hit the ground running I’ll be in full flight and enjoying my rugby again.
“The guys have been very welcoming, the staff included. The first day was a little bit nerve-racking but I’m very excited to be in amongst the guys and I’m ready to take on the new journey.”