By 3 News online staff / NZN
Code-hopping Israel Folau has signed a one-year deal with the Sydney-based Waratahs for the 2013 Super Rugby season.
The 23-year-old former Australian rules footballer and NRL rugby league player announced the deal during a press conference today.
The conditions and remuneration package of the deal were not disclosed, but it is understood the contract is for a third of the AU$1.5 million he was receiving a year in the AFL.
The announcement ends speculation of potential overseas rugby union contracts as well as rugby league deals, most recently described as a failed attempt by the Paramatta Eels to fit Folau into the team under the NRL salary cap – Folau turning down the offer.
Labelled a cash-hungry mercenary in some quarters after walking away from protracted talks with Parramatta, Folau took to Twitter late on Sunday.
"Everyone is entitled to their opinions! But I'll speak the truth when it's my time," Folau tweeted.
A AU$4.5 million ($5.7 million) salary cap for each of Australia's five Super Rugby clubs has been introduced for the first time and takes effect from the start of next year as the Australian Rugby Union attempts to rein in player salaries.
But yesterday Rebels coach Damien Hill was at odds to figure out how the Waratahs could meet salary restrictions with the inclusion of Folau in their camp.
"Israel is a rare talent and would be a great asset for rugby," said Hill.
"But I can't see how any Super Rugby clubs, including the Rebels, could afford him with the late timing and the salary caps that have been enforced."
Along with the Rebels, the Waratahs are the only Australian franchises to have a spot to fill on their 30-man roster for next season.
In 2012, the Waratahs finished third in the Australia Super Rugby conference behind the Reds and Brumbies.