Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said reports of Kurtley Beale’s looming departure were “disappointing”.
Reports emerged on Friday that Beale had put pen to paper with the Coventry-based Wasps on a two-year, $1.45 million-a-season deal.
While the Waratahs and the ARU are yet to officially confirm this, rugby.com.au understands Beale is all but gone from Super Rugby 2017.
Hooper said Beale’s potential move would be a big loss for the Waratahs.
“I literally just heard about it (the report) five minutes before I walked down here. (It’s) disappointing,” he said.
“I’m happy for him as an individual. The ability to make those decisions, it’s all part of rugby, but for me, selfishly, disappointing.
“I love playing with Kurtley, love having him in the environment, in the team and hopefully I’ll be able to play with him a lot more in the future.”
While Hooper seemed resigned to Beale’s switch, Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson dismissed rumours of Beale’s signing, saying he still considers his future as with NSW.
“Obviously it’s unconfirmed at this stage,” he said.
“As far as I’m concerned he’s still staying. I can’t add anything more than I already know, which is that he’s undecided.”
If details of the deal for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons are accurate, Beale could be eligible to return for the Waratahs by the end of the 2018 season, similarly to Dean Mumm’s late-season comeback in 2015.
Click Here: Christian Dior perfume
Gibson said whatever decision Beale made, it wouldn’t be a “terminal” loss.
“It’s not terminal,” he said.
“With the 60-game rule for the Wallabies, he’s still available to Australian rugby.
“In my experience, if a player goes overseas, plays a different kind of rugby and it all adds to creating a really well-rounded rugby player.”
Youngster Dave Horwitz looms as the potential replacement for Beale, having stepped into the 12 jumper to start the season.
“Dave’s someone who will be here next year,” he said.
“We saw early on what he could do.
“I’m very confident, (even though) Kurtley is unique and his skill set is unique, that the team will grow and someone else will pop up.”
Hooper said a like for like replacement would be impossible, though expressed faith in Horwitz.
“You can’t replace Kurtley Beale,” he said.
“If that spot is left open, someone else is going to take that role and there’s been guys that have done a really good job in stepping up.”
Both Hooper and Gibson batted away any suggestion that the saga had distracted the team or Beale, who has been in career-best form.
The Waratahs are looking for a fourth-straight win on Saturday night, when they take on the Bulls.