LONDON - New South Wales Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said on Friday he is still hopeful of retaining the services of Kurtley Beale despite a report linking him with a move to English side Wasps at the end of the year.
Beale, whose playing future has been the subject of intense media speculation all season, was reported by the Times in London on Friday to have signed a two-year contract with Wasps worth 1.5 million pounds ($2.17 million).
"It's unconfirmed," Gibson told reporters in Sydney on Friday. "Obviously for Kurtley it's a big decision. He's got to decide between staying in Australia and a really supportive environment or going overseas and playing his rugby over there.
"This has been going on for a while but through it he has been playing the best rugby of his life, so he is clearly unaffected by what is in front of him.
"For us, we'd love him to stay. That hasn't changed.
Beale's Waratahs and Wallabies team mate Michael Hooper said he was unaware of any possible move by the utility back, but if he had signed then it would leave a large hole for the Waratahs to fill next season.
"You can't replace Kurtley Beale," Hooper said. "You get something different and that's with rugby what we'll be chasing.
"I'm happy for him as an individual. The ability to make those decisions is all part of rugby but, for me, selfishly it's probably disappointing.
"I love playing with Kurtley. I love having him in the environment here in the team but hopefully I'll be able to play with him a lot more in the future."
Beale would still be eligible for the Wallabies having played 60 tests for the national side. The Waratahs host the Bulls in Sydney on Saturday. -Reuters
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