Wallaby Beale linked to Waratahs return

Murray Wenzel with PA |

Kurtley Beale is poised for a NSW Waratahs return after reports in France indicated he would pass up a contract extension with glamour club Racing 92.

The playmaker/fullback has spent two seasons in France, his move there in 2020 coming as new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie attempted to move on from the mercurial talent.

But the 33-year-old impressed when a raft of injuries saw him parachuted into Australia’s Spring Tour squad late last year and now Beale has pinned his ears back in pursuit of a fourth World Cup campaign.

French website RMC Sport stated it was Beale’s time on the Wallabies tour in the United Kingdom that swayed him, while the same site also reported that leading Wallabies second-rower Rory Arnold was looking at a move from France to Japan.

Like Beale, Arnold was called on by Rennie late last year, his Test return possible thanks to the relaxation of the current eligibility rules likely set for permanent change later this year.

Beale has played 93 Tests and would have been eligible for Wallabies selection even if he remained in France, where the World Cup will take place next year.

But a return to Australia keeps him under Rennie’s nose at the Waratahs, where he would slot into the void left by France-bound fullback Jack Maddocks and boost a side that floundered in a historic 0-13 season last year.

Following his one-year Japan sabbatical, Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is already back at the Waratahs, along with fellow forwards Ned Hanigan and Jed Holloway.

And new coach Darren Coleman will now also have the services of veteran Wales and British and Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts.

Roberts, who’s played 94 Tests, has been granted an early release from Welsh club Dragons to join the Waratahs on compassionate grounds.

His Australian partner Nicole Ramson is expecting their second child in March and moved back to Sydney a few weeks ago.

Roberts has signed a one-year injury coverage contract with the injury-hit Waratahs.

He is expected the fill the inside centre role for the Tahs, who lost promising youngster Joey Walton to an ACL injury in training in November.

Roberts, a standout in his two British and Irish Lions tours, scored the series-clinching try against Australia in 2013 as well as being named the Lions Player of the Series in their 2009 tour of South Africa.

He made his Test debut for Wales in 2008 against Scotland and has featured in two Rugby World Cup campaigns (2011,2015) and won three Six Nations titles with Wales including two Grand Slams.

Roberts will play his final match for Dragons against Benetton in the United Rugby Championship this weekend before departing for Sydney to join the side.

The Waratahs play their first trial match of 2022 against the Brumbies on Saturday in Bowral.