The Waratahs will be rallying around Kurtley Beale in the coming weeks as the reality dawns that the star back may have played his last game for the club.
Beale was stretchered off 41 seconds into the Waratahs’ bonus point win over the Bulls on Saturday night, with a “significant” patella tendon injury.
Coach Daryl Gibson said post-match that Beale would be unlikely to return for the Waratahs this season, though was unsure about his availability for the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship, starting in late August.
The news is all that more stinging for the Waratahs, with Beale on Friday confirming a move to English club, Wasps, meaning he has likely been robbed of any remnants of a fairytale swansong
“We spoke at length around making sure he signs off on the correct note,” Gibson said.
“It’s disappointing for me with his injury that he won’t get the opportunity to do that and do that in front of the people and with his teammates.”
Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said Beale’s injury was an emotional hit for the group but it shouldn’t dull the significance of their victory.
“I want to see the boys stoked with that win,” he said.
“That is a hard win and the guys worked really hard, especially off the back of KB’s injury 42 seconds in.
“That was a significant shock and significant hit to have so early on in the game, more just emotionally, feeling for him.
“No one likes to see a teammate like KB go off immediately, just because of the bloke (he is).”
Hooper said he hoped he and the Waratahs would have a chance to give him a more positive farewell, but said the focus was just on keeping his morale up.
“He wants to give so much more and loves playing at this club, that’s why the decision was so hard for him,” he said.
“I’d love to be there with him to be able to do it (play together again).
“Kurtley’s got a lot of rugby left in him so we’ll wait and see how he goes.
“First of all it’s just (let’s) get around him and hopefully get him back and get around him in the changerooms.”
Hooper praised the performance of Beale’s understudy David Horwitz, who had less than a minute to adjust to going from a bench spot to effectively starting the match.
“For Davey (Horwitz) to come on under pressure and build into a really nice performance was credit to him.
“I want the guys to be really happy with that win and then get around KB.”
With a reported one-year deal with the English club that has an option of extending, Beale could yet be back in sky blue in the longer-term, something Hooper would love to see.
“There’s so much that can happen over the time,” he said.
“He loves playing for the Waratahs, this is a club he’s played amazing football at and as a really good affiliation with.
“Who knows (if he’ll come back)? Rugby’s a funny game. I’m sure he wants to do the best for himself and his family and that would be the Waratahs.”