The Sydney Roosters are poised to announce the signing of teenage star Joseph Suaalii following a curt announcement of his release from NRL neighbours South Sydney.
The clubs have been locked in a big-money battle to secure the 17-year-old for 2021 and beyond, with Australian Rugby also launching a bid.
However, in a one-sentence statement on Tuesday the Rabbitohs confirmed they had lost their fight to retain one of the most-hyped young players in recent history.
“The South Sydney Rabbitohs have released Joseph Suaalii from the remaining year of his playing contract following the payment of a non-disclosed transfer fee by another NRL club,” it read.
The transfer of the former Australian Schoolboys Sevens star adds another layer to the bitter rivalry between the two clubs.
Suaalii’s contract with the Roosters being lodged with the NRL, with the club expected to formally announce his deal later on Tuesday.
Under NRL rules, the talented outside back is unable to play first grade until he turns 18, which is not until August next year.
However, the Roosters are believed to have made inquiries with the governing body about gaining an exemption for Suaalii to play NRL next season.