Rebels can't fathom Folau signing with Waratahs
Code-hopper Israel Folau (AAP)
By Will Knight
Melbourne Rebels coach Damien Hill says he can't fathom how Super Rugby rivals NSW Waratahs can fit code-hopper Israel Folau under the newly introduced salary cap.
The 23-year-old is set to announce on Tuesday he has signed a one-year deal with the Waratahs, who have called a press conference for 11am (NZT).
Rugby union emerged as the next stop for Folau after he turned down an offer to return to rugby league in the NRL with Parramatta last week, having quit his multi-million dollar AFL deal with Greater Western Sydney last month.
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.
Speculation is rife the former Kangaroos centre will commit to a one-year deal, reportedly in the hope of signing a more lucrative contract at the end of next season when salary cap issues are sorted out.
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.
But the Rebels, who were reportedly extremely close to signing Folau in 2010 before he moved to the AFL, wondered how the Waratahs could afford him.
"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."
A $A4.5 million ($NZ5.7 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.