AUSTRALIAN superstar Kurtley Beale is looking forward to getting a taste of the Ricoh Arena crowd after confirming he will be joining Wasps for the 2016/17 Aviva Premiership campaign.
The 27-year-old will move to Wasps as their overseas marquee signing from the NSW Waratahs following the conclusion of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Beale is one of the most recognisable faces in rugby having represented Australia 60 times since making his debut against Wales in 2009.
He has competed in two Rugby World Cups and he finished runner-up in last year’s competition as the Wallabees lost out to New Zealand at Twickenham.
“I can’t wait to move to England and pull on the Wasps jersey,” said Beale.
“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.
“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.
“Wasps are a big club with a great coaching staff and very talented playing roster. Dai Young has told me about the atmosphere at the Ricoh Arena, how passionate the fans are and his plans for the future…it’s something I’m really excited about.
“I am only 27 now and I know my best footy is ahead of me, both at club and Test level.”
Beale has built a reputation as a world-class game changer, possessing a mercurial ability to unlock defences and conjure something out of nothing.
In 2011, he was awarded the John Eales medal, recognising Australia’s best rugby player of the year. Beale was also nominated for the IRB International Player of the Year award in the same season.
Beale becomes the eighth signing Wasps have announced for the 2016/17 season, joining Guy Armitage, Danny Cipriani, Tom Cruse, Marcus Garratt, Marty Moore, Tommy Taylor and Tom Woolstencroft, although he is expected to miss around three months of the season having picked up a knee injury.
“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. “Kurtley Beale is one of those rare talents.
“Every time he gets the ball in his hands, you can sense the anticipation among those watching that something is going to happen. At Wasps, we like to play expansive, attacking rugby, and these are the type of players we want within our set up.
“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.”