Waratahs confirm Beale departure

Australia's Kurtley Beale during training, Ebetsu
Australia's Kurtley Beale during training, Ebetsu

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The New South Wales Waratahs confirmed on Tuesday that Wallabies utility back Kurtley Beale has left the team and will not participate in the domestic "Super Rugby AU" competition.

Australian media reported over the weekend that Beale had requested an early release from his contract with the Sydney-based Super Rugby team.

"It was announced in May that Beale would not be returning to Daceyville in 2021 and following the COVID-19 shutdown it's been agreed that he take up that opportunity with immediate effect," the Waratahs said in a statement.

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Beale, who also made 14 appearances for the Melbourne Rebels in New South Wales, amassed 148 appearances for the Waratahs and helped them to the 2014 Super Rugby title.

"I've spent most of my career in my home state representing the Waratahs, it's been an honour," Beale said.

"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."

The 31-year-old, who played a third World Cup with the Wallabies in Japan, said last month he had signed a contract in France with Racing 92 from next season.

It followed reports that Beale had been omitted from coach Dave Rennie's preliminary squad of Wallabies prospects after an inconsistent start to Super Rugby before the season was suspended in March.

Beale, with 92 caps, Beale meets the minimum 60-test threshold for overseas-based players to be eligible for national selection, and Rugby Australia's Director of Rugby Scott Johnson said the Wallabies door remained open.

"Kurtley has been a great contributor for Australian rugby over many years and I know he still has the desire to represent his country," Johnson said in a statement.

"If his form warrants it he will certainly come into calculations for selection."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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