GREATER Western Sydney are planning to meet Kurt Tippett next week, as the club explores the possibility of moving some of Israel Folau's marketing millions over to the controversial former Adelaide forward.
The Giants say they are serious in their pursuit of Tippett and the departure of Folau has increased their capacity to pay the forward the huge sum that cross-town rival Sydney had pledged.
Folau was being paid an estimated $1 million a season, the vast bulk of which was outside the salary cap as part of his ''ambassador'' role as a code jumper. The Giants are set to explore with the AFL whether an arrangement of that kind - perhaps on a lesser scale - can be struck for Tippett.
The Giants believe Tippett has been offered $4 million over four years by the Swans, who, until now, had appeared to be strongly favoured to snare Tippett, most likely in the pre-season draft for uncontracted and delisted players.
Brisbane are highly unlikely to draft Tippett, a Queenslander, in either the national or pre-season draft, while Gold Coast's football operations, too, have talked down their interest.
The Giants, however, are well-placed to take him, having five picks in the top 13 in the national draft (1,2,3,12 and 13) and first spot in the pre-season, well ahead of the Swans, in the event Tippett places a hefty price on his head before he enters the draft, which is the only way he can get to his preferred destination, the Swans.
While the AFL can not compel players to join any particular club, Fairfax believes the league would prefer to see Tippett at GWS or one of the Queensland teams, rather than with the Swans.
Adelaide have already lost an out-of-contract player to GWS - Phil Davis - but the rules do not preclude the Giants from taking Tippett as a second out-of-contract player because he would be recruited via the draft and theoretically available to any club.
GWS chief executive Dave Matthews said on Thursday the club was ''very serious'' about its interest in Tippett and would attempt to have discussions with his management in the next week.
Matthews said Folau's departure and the club's interest in Tippett were separate issues.
He said Folau's decision to quit was nothing to do with the club's interest in or ability to secure Tippett but his exit did open up money - in the budget and salary cap - to potentially accommodate the former Adelaide forward and ruck.
As an alternative talent rookie, Folau's wage only counted in the salary cap for the senior games he played. Thus, the salary cap relief will not be large but it will be sufficient to open more space.
''We are very serious about our interest in Kurt Tippett,'' Matthews said. ''It had nothing to do with Israel's decision, they are independent considerations and we had said over the weekend already that we would seriously look at Kurt Tippet and speak with his management and we still intend to do that.
''It [Folau leaving] does create some salary cap room for us. So we will talk more to his management company, we are certainly in he race because we have the draft positions to secure him in either draft and we have the scope to fit him in.''