SYDNEY (Reuters) - Wallabies utility back Kurtley Beale has decided to cut short his stay in European club rugby and return to Australia in an effort to help the national side win the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has been in constant contact with the 28-year-old Beale since his move to English side Wasps and earlier this week dangled a carrot for a more senior role in the national side.
A serious knee injury wiped out Beale’s international season last year and he played the last of his 60 tests in the 2015 World Cup final defeat by New Zealand before he joined Wasps.
“This has been a really hard decision because of how much I’ve been enjoying my time at Wasps (but) I signed a one-year deal from the outset to enable me to keep my options open,” Beale told the Wasps website (www.wasps.co.uk) on Thursday.
”I came very close to agreeing a new contract with Wasps, but I believe to achieve my international rugby aspirations I need to be back home in Australia.
”To be able to wear the Wallaby jersey again would be the greatest privilege and at this stage of my career I want to give myself the best opportunity of representing Australia in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“The vision Cheik (Cheika) has for the Wallabies is really exciting and is something I really want to be part of and contribute to.”
Beale injured his knee while playing Super Rugby for the New South Wales Waratahs last May, a day after Wasps announced his move to England.
The Wallabies play Fiji, Scotland and Italy in June before the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship begins in August.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Ken Ferris