Kurtley Beale will become the highest-paid player in England after signing a two-year £1.5million ($2.96 million) contract with Wasps, but it is another figure that may have a bigger impact on his new deal.
Beale will still be eligible for 12 of 15 Wallabies Tests this year, plus training camps, which significantly decreases his new club's bang for their buck.
As reported by the London Times on Friday, Beale, 27, will depart the Waratahs at season's end for English rugby. The Coventry-based side is believed to see Beale's future at centre, with former Melbourne Rebels teammate Danny Cipriani pulling the strings at five-eighth.
Beale's staggering two-year deal worth £750,000 per year ($1.48million) would eclipse that of England and Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi, who earns £425,000 ($839,000) a season.
Beale will become one of the richest players in the Premiership, but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will have no hesitation drawing on World Rugby's regulation nine that grants national federations the right to call upon their overseas-based players for Test duties.
It is understood Cheika will continue to pick Beale for the Wallabies and the possible starting No.12 would be eligible to feature in the June Tests against England, The Rugby Championship and the middle three matches of a European Spring Tour against Scotland, France and Ireland.
This is something that happens all too often and does not sit well with European clubs. To spend such a substantial amount of cash on a player who can be plucked from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere at short notice is not a handsome financial return on investment.
Of the six top earners for the 2016/17 Premiership season, Beale would join fellow Australian Matt Toomua, two New Zealanders (John Afoa and Ben Te'o) and a Frenchman (Louis Picamoles).
To make matters even more interesting, there is concern and speculation European clubs will try to sidestep official protocol by convincing Australian players out of returning for their countries in side-deals that, under the laws of the game, are not allowed. The fact Beale would still be eligible to spend more than a quarter of the year within the Wallabies set-up is a major headache for Wasps management and somewhat perplexing given the cash they have thrown at their marquee signing.
Beale would also be granted leave to travel from England to Australia to participate in Wallabies camps scheduled for late July into early August, as well as one before the Spring Tour, even though there has not been one scheduled yet. Wasps are yet to make an official announcement regarding Beale's signing, but Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said on Friday he had not spoken to Beale about any arrangement to make the move to England. "It's unconfirmed at this stage and as far as I'm concerned he's still staying and I can't add anything more than I already know and that is that he's still undecided," Gibson said. "For us we'd love him to stay. He's been playing spectacularly well and I'm sure in his own mind he knows that it's going to be a difficult decision for him. I know what we can provide here and we've got to hope that he can see that as well."
The other name included in the report was Quade Cooper – the Wallabies playmaker currently in Toulon – in regards to him being shopped around in England.
Asked whether Cooper would be a fitting replacement for Beale at the Waratahs, Gibson said: "I think we'll find our replacement from Australia. We're not really in the market for a Quade skillset as such. I think Bernard [Foley] is our number one [five-eighth] here, so for us it would be more a second-receiver, ball-running sort of role."
Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper was also unaware of reports about Beale's departure, saying it would be a massive loss. "I just heard about it five minutes before I walked down here, so [it's] disappointing," Hooper said.