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Kurtley Beale leaving Wasps to focus on Australia and 2019 Rugby World Cup

Kurtley Beale will leave Wasps at the end of this season in order to pursue his 2019 World Cup dream.

Australia star Beale, rumoured to currently be the Aviva Premiership's highest-paid player, signed a one-year deal with the league leaders in 2016.

And Wasps have now confirmed he will head back Down Under.

"Following recent conversations with Australia head coach Michael Cheika, the 28-year-old Wallaby feels he could play a central part for Australia as they build-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup," Wasps said in a statement.

"And the best way to fulfil the role outlined to him is to be back in the country.

"Wasps are fully supportive of Kurtley achieving his international ambitions, and will wish him the very best when he returns to Australia at the end of the season."

Beale, whose Wasps debut was delayed until December while he recovered from injury, has played a pivotal role in their concerted push for European and domestic honours this term.

"This has been a really hard decision because of how much I've been enjoying my time at Wasps," Beale said.

"The squad, coaches, medical team and fans have been brilliant towards me since I arrived, and I will always appreciate how they supported me through the injury rehab and gave me time to get my confidence back on the field.

"I signed a one-year deal from the outset to enable me to keep my options open.

"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.

"Wasps have been going really well this season and I will be putting everything I have into helping the squad stay top of the table and fulfil our potential this year."

Wasps rugby director Dai Young, meanwhile, paid tribute to Beale, who has won 60 caps for Australia.

Young said: " I know how difficult a decision this has been for Kurtley as he has really enjoyed his time here at Wasps and has settled in brilliantly on and off the field.

"He is a popular member of the dressing room, as well as a world-class player.

"All new contract discussions between us and Kurtley have been very amicable, and he will leave with our very best wishes in the summer.

"When Kurtley signed, the idea was it would be for one year, similar to the deals that George Smith and Charles Piutau signed with the club last season, and during that time he would see how he settled in the UK.

"Because of how much Kurtley was enjoying it here, and we were enjoying having him, we opened discussions about extending his stay.

"Until last week, we were relatively confident he would put pen to paper for another year. However, I know he and Michael Cheika have spoken recently and Kurtley feels he has an important role to play in the Wallabies' set-up, leading up to the World Cup.

"Kurtley is a proud Australian, who quite rightly wants to represent his country, and neither I nor the club would ever discourage a player from playing international rugby, so we fully understand why he would want to return."

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