Superstar Wallabies halfback Will Genia will quit the Queensland Reds at the end of the Super Rugby season to link up with the Western Force.
And in another massive coup for the Force, champion flanker David Pocock is on the verge of re-signing with the Perth-based franchise.
Genia has been a mainstay of the Wallabies and Reds for the past few seasons and is widely considered the premier scrum-half in world rugby.
But it seems a hefty asking price has forced him out of Queensland’s set-up.
Genia reportedly wanted upwards of $400,000 per season to stay at the Reds, who were set to face a battle to retain all of their star-studded squad.
The Reds confirmed Genia’s defection on Saturday night, saying the 24-year-old had agreed to terms with the Force.
However, Genia can’t put pen to paper with the Force until his Australian Rugby Union deal is sorted.
Queensland chief executive Jim Carmichael said the Reds tried their best to retain Genia.
“I believe Queensland Rugby made the best offer we could to retain Will’s services in Queensland,” Carmichael said in a statement.
“However, the opportunity presented to head west was ultimately more appealing to Will.”
The Force’s acquisition of Genia, combined with the retention of Pocock, is a mighty double coup to the success-starved franchise.
Just last week, the Force’s off-field affairs appeared in tatters when coach Richard Graham announced his defection to the Reds.
How quickly things can change.
Genia and Pocock were among five players shortlisted for the IRB’s world player of the year award in 2011.
Queensland’s 174cm terrier-like half was integral to the Reds’ Super Rugby title-winning campaign, while Pocock battles New Zealand’s Richard McCaw for the tag of the world’s best No.7.
The star pair could help attract a host of other talented players to the club for next season, boosting the Force’s chances of finally breaking through for a maiden finals appearance in 2013.
Queensland’s loss of Genia is a major blow to the 2011 champions, who rely heavily on the halves combination of Genia-Quade Cooper.
Ironically it will be ex-Force coach Graham who will feel the pinch the most, with Graham taking over as Queensland coach from Ewen McKenzie next season.