Brisbane rugby league star Karmichael Hunt is switching to play Australian Rules with new AFL franchise Gold Coast in a move which will rock the NRL.
In an unprecedented cross-code switch, the Gold Coast outfit is to announce on Wednesday it plans to acquire Hunt, who comes off contract with the Broncos this season.
He will probably begin his new career in the VFL next year, with Gold Coast likely to play in that competition rather than the QAFL before joining the AFL as the 17th franchise in 2011.
It is believed to be the first time a rugby league international has switched to play Australian Rules at the elite level.
The move will intensify the fierce turf war between the strongest football codes in Australia, with rugby league in danger of suffering further raids on its most talented players, especially if Hunt makes a successful transition.
Fellow Test players Greg Inglis, Billy Slater and Israel Folau are other obvious targets for AFL clubs.
Hunt played some Australian Rules as a schoolboy in Brisbane, attracting the attention of Queensland AFL scouts, before joining the Broncos as a 17-year-old in 2004.
The Auckland-born fullback has since played 10 State of Origin matches for Queensland and 11 Tests for Australia.
With Hunt’s contract with the Broncos up at the end of the 2009 NRL season, the 22-year-old’s future has been a hot topic in recent months.
He knocked back a $1.2 million three-year deal from the Broncos earlier this year and his manager David Riolo has been overseas looking at his options.
There had been speculation he could move to Japan to play rugby, but Hunt will make his shock code-switch announcement at a press conference on the Gold Coast at 10.30am Wednesday AEST.