Rugby League will lose two of its biggest names at the end of this season when both Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Burgess switch codes in time for the 2015 rugby union World Cup.
But reports are circulating in Australia that claim two of rugby union’s top stars will be coming in the opposite direction.
Former Melbourne and Brisbane star Israel Folau and Waratahs utility Kurtley Beale are both expected to sign deals with NRL clubs in the next few weeks.
Folau, 25, scored 73 tries in 91 NRL appearances as a teenager before switching to Australian Rules Football then moving on to rugby union.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the pacey outside back was spotted in a cafe with the NRL’s Todd Greenberg and his agent this week in a meeting that lasted 40 minutes. It is unknown where he would play upon his return, but Storm and the Roosters are current favourites.
Beale, also 25, is a precocious talent with over 40 caps for Australia. He took on Great Britain’s Lions when they toured down under last year and was arguably the side’s biggest threat. Used primarily at full-back, he is a competent kicker and can play in the centres or at fly-half, too. He has never played League at professional level but is certainly skilful enough to do so and grew up playing it.
He is said to be extremely close to securing a deal with Canterbury Bulldogs and has received backing from dual-code international Lote Tuquiri, Beale’s former team-mate who is now at South Sydney Rabbitohs.
He said: “I’ve spoken to him about it before. I think Kurtley has got a bloody heap of talent and he grew up playing Rugby League, so he can play both games with ease.”
There are also suggestions that former Brisbane, Australia and Queensland star Karmichael Hunt – now with Aussie Rules side Gold Coast – is close to a move back to the NRL.