The Western Force have launched an audacious bid to poach ACT Brumbies lock Darcy Swain.
The attempt comes just months after they successfully lured ACT scrumhalf Nic White to Perth on a lucrative deal.
The Force are backed by billionaire Andrew Forrest, the mining magnate helping the team recruit a host of big names including former Waratah Ben Donaldson.
The Brumbies are determined to retain Swain, however there are limits on the cash and playing opportunities available in Canberra.
With Cadeyrn Neville and Nick Frost contracted until the end of 2025 and emerging star Tom Hooper also off contract at the end of next season, officials may struggle to keep the quartet together.
The depth may prompt Rugby Australia to step in and facilitate Swain's exit under a planned centralised high-performance structure.
The Force is set to receive an early look at Swain and the Brumbies squad in the new year, with the two teams to play a pre-season trial in Western Australia.
The match will be one of two trial games ACT plays before the start of the 2024 Super Rugby season, with officials in the process of finalising a a second fixture.
Swain has endured a chequered run throughout the past couple of seasons and has developed a reputation as an ill-disciplined player.
This has led to multiple yellow cards and a six-week suspension for a dangerous cleanout on New Zealand centre Quinn Tupaea.
Despite his reputation, the 26-year-old is one of the best lineout jumpers in the country with his best rugby still to come.
This has played a key role in the Force's interest, however the Brumbies are confident there is space for Swain alongside Frost, Neville and Hooper.
The lock is one of 17 players coming off-contract at the end of next season, a group including Noah Lolesio, Hooper and Luke Reimer.
Progress on negotiations has been slow as the Brumbies wait for Rugby Australia to finalise plans for nationally contracted players.
The Force isn't the only team keeping a close eye on the situation, with cashed-up international clubs circling and preparing to launch big-money offers amid a domestic financial squeeze.
There has been movement from RA in the past week and ACT officials are preparing to sit down with players and their agents throughout the next few weeks.
The club is facing salary cap pressure, with so many stars coming off-contract and many likely to receive upgraded deals.
Hooper will receive an RA top up and officials are optimistic promising winger Corey Toole is also ready for a national contract as they look to retain the former sevens star.
Lolesio commenced pre-season training on Monday after a short-term stint in Toulon, with the flyhalf expressing his desire to return to France at some point in the future.
ACT coach Stephen Larkham recognises he faces a tough task to retain the entirety of his squad but said the club is starting to make progress.
"We've made slow progress with everything going on with Rugby Australia at the moment," Larkham said. "They're conscious of our issues and working with us to move forward.
"We've started conversations with RA around a number of our players and they've given us some advice on some players."