New Wasps signing Kurtley Beale is likely to be sidelined for "four to six months" after suffering a torn patella tendon injury, the NSW Waratahs have announced.
Beale sustained the injury during the first minute of the Waratahs' Super Rugby match against the Bulls in Sydney on Saturday - just a day after signing a deal with Wasps, which will reportedly make him the Aviva Premiership's highest-paid player.
The 27-year-old Australia back will undergo surgery on Monday and, according to the Waratahs, could be out of action until November.
A statement on www.waratahs.com.au read: " Waratahs centre Kurtley Beale has received a better prognosis than expected after injuring his knee during last night's round 12 Super Rugby match against the Bulls.
"Beale is likely to be sidelined for four to six months with scans revealing his patella tendon has torn from his patella. The result is the best possible prognosis given the tendon remains intact, requiring less invasive surgery, and that the injury is isolated with no other damage to the knee.
"Beale's length of time away from the game will be better understood following surgery tomorrow, Monday 16th May, at midday (local time)."
Beale damaged his left knee while leaping to catch a high ball inside the opening 30 seconds of the Waratahs' 31-8 victory over the Bulls and having received treatment on the pitch, he was driven off on a stretcher cart.
The injury - which i nitial reports suggested could keep Beale sidelined for up to a year - rules the Wallaby out of the remainder of the Super Rugby season as well as Australia's three-match Test series against England next month.
However, if his recovery only takes four months then he could yet be available for the first month of the 2016-17 Aviva Premiership season with Wasps.
Beale, who has won 60 international caps, is understood to have agreed a one-year contract at Wasps with the option for a 12-month extension if his initial spell at the Ricoh Arena proves to be a success.
His annual salary is reported to be worth in excess of £700,000, and if the figure is accurate it makes him the highest-earning player in Premiership history, eclipsing the £500,000 paid to rugby league convert Sam Burgess.