Wallabies star Kurtley Beale to return to Australia

Wallabies star Kurtley Beale has confirmed he is to leave Wasps and return to Australia at the end of the English domestic rugby season.

The former Waratahs centre is currently the highest earning player in England after signing a A$1.5 million (NZ$1.63m) one-year deal, with the option of a second season, last May.

Beale had to wait until December to make his debut for Wasps after suffering a serious knee injury during a Super Rugby clash just hours after signing for the English giants.

He's been in fine form since finally making it onto the field, helping Wasps to the top of the Aviva Premiership table with two tries in last week's win over Bath.

At the end of last year's Spring Tour Wallabies coach Michael Cheika stayed on to visit Beale, and it appears that decision has paid dividends with the 28 -year-old deciding the time is right to return.

"The squad, coaches, medical team and fans have been brilliant towards me since I arrived," Beale said.

"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 to 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 director of rugby Dai Young said he thought he'd persuaded Beale to stay, but admitted he couldn't fault him for wanting to kick-start his international career.

"Until last week, we were relatively confident he would put pen to paper for another year," Young said.

"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.

"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. He will leave with our very best wishes in the summer."

Photo: Getty Images (Kurtley Beale will finish up with Wasps this season and return to Australia).