Melbourne - The Melbourne Rebels have signed Wallaby back Kurtley Beale in a two-year deal underlining the financial clout of the Vodacom Super Rugby newcomers.
The 22-year-old Beale would join the Rebels after finishing the current Super season with the Sydney-based Waratahs, local media reported on Thursday.
The Rebels were expected to announce the deal later on Thursday, a team spokesperson said.
"The Waratahs have been a big part of Kurtley's life since he left school, and you never like to lose a player, particularly one you have had a long and close association with," Waratahs' coach Chris Hickey told Thursday's Sydney Morning Herald.
"But Kurtley has made a decision on what he believes is best for his future, and that's the reality of professional sport.
"While we are disappointed to lose him, the main thing is that he won't be playing for the Rebels until 2012.
"We have a competition to win in 2011, and I'm sure that Kurtley will be a big part of that.
"I do not bear Kurtley any grudges, and I do hope it is a successful move for him. If in two years' time he wants to come back to the Waratahs, if there's a position here, we'll keep the door open."
Beale's signing has been hailed by media in Melbourne as the biggest recruiting coup for an Australian side since Wallaby lock Nathan Sharpe crossed from Queensland Reds to Western Force for the Perth-based side's inaugural season in 2006.
Beale would be paid A$400,000 ($420 000) a year, reports said, in a deal boosted by third-party payments from sponsors.
He is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in Australian rugby and announced himself in spectacular fashion last year by slotting a last-gasp 55-metre penalty goal for the Wallabies to beat South Africa on the high veld for the first time in 47 years.
He finished the season as Australia's second-highest try-scorer with seven after playing 12 of 15 tests and he may not be the only big Australian name agreeing to join the Melbourne-based side for next year.
The Rebels have also reportedly set their sights on landing Wallabies' utility James O'Connor, whose contract with the Force expires at the end of the season.