In recent years one rumour that did the rounds on an annual basis was England Rugby League winger Josh Charnley, following a path first blazed by Jason Robinson in 2000, switching codes from league to union and joining Sale Sharks.
Today we mourn the death of that rumour; for on the dawn of Wednesday morning Sale confirmed what most had apparently known two years ago - Josh Charnley will leave Wigan Warriors at the end of the current Super League season and become the latest League star to attempt to crack the 15-man code.
Charnley will leave Wigan something akin to a mini club legend. Despite being only 24, the Chorley born winger has so far racked up 152 appearances for the Warriors, scored a ridiculous 148 tries and also slotted 94 penalties. A two-time Grand Final and Challenge Cup winner who also led the Super League in tries scored in 2012 and 2013, Charnley will join up with the Sharks in November. Contract length was not specified.
I love this signing but there's no doubting its a high-risk, high-reward situation.
Charnley is by all accounts a star in Rugby League. Lightning quick but impressively strong with a try-scoring record that classifies him as an elite finisher and a tendency to score length-of-the-field solo efforts, Charnley is the game-changing backline player Sale have struggled to procure in recent seasons to play alongside talisman Danny Cipriani (ironic then, that the latter will leave Sale before the former's arrival).
Charnley has both the physical tools and the pedigree to immediately transfer his star power from League over to Union - his signing is an audacious coup for Sale, one that will definitely have made their top-six rivals sit up and take notice. And who knows, maybe some of the prophesied League-to-Union supporter converts that never really materialised following Sale's move to the AJ Bell and North Manchester may now be finally tempted by Charnley's presence to come and watch (and follow) the Sharks such is Charnley's attraction.
The risk comes not so much from Charnley's ability itself - especially as the transition to Union will be made easier since Diamond wants to keep him at his preferred position of winger - but in recognising the long and often unsuccessful history of League-to-Union converts. We need look only at last year's Sam Burgess fiasco (or the plight of Joel Tomkins, or Lesley Vainikolo, or Henry Paul) to acknowledge the tumultuous experience even the brightest of League stars have had in attempting to switch codes.
Luckily success rates are highest for League players being deployed in the back-three due to the distinct similarities in the roles performed by wingers and fullbacks in both codes. With Sale, Charnley will be expected only to replicate his explosive offensive game, bag some tries and get to grips with the mechanisms of rucking and Union-style territorial kicking. It is no coincidence that Jason Robinson and Chris Ashton, two of the most successful cross-code converts ever, played fullback and winger respectively - positions where what was required of them saw little change from the transition across sports.
So where does this leave Sale for next season? Whilst speculation continues to swirl about exactly who will be distributing the ball to Charnley and co. next season, Charnley's signing has more than adequately replenished Sale's previously diminishing wing depth following the announced departures of Phil Mackenzie and Tom Brady and, paradoxically, even boosted their options at fullback. Whilst I fully expect Charnley to be fast tracked into the Sharks first team wearing either 11 or 14 on his jersey next season, having Charnley and (presumably) Will Addison as the Sharks' incumbent wingers allows Sale to employ Tom Arscott as both the first reserve at winger and at fullback in relief of Mike Haley; Arscott's versatility is ideal for the 23rd man on the bench assuming everyone is fit.
But before we start imagining Sale's newest signing topping the Premiership's scoring charts immediately, don't expect to see Charnley in a Sale shirt particularly soon. With the Super League season only finishing in October and Charnley not expected to report and begin immersing himself in his new sport until mid-November it is doubtful - unless he takes to Union immediately - that we will see Charnley in any meaningful competition for Sale until well after the new year. Whilst Charnley has all the raw skills to make an immediate impact at the AJ Bell, I would be very surprised if Diamond doesn't opt to bed him in slowly.
Lewis Hughes can't wait to see how Paul Deacon plans to utilise his ex-Wigan teammate next season. Follow The Shark Tank on Twitter for more news, analysis, and opinions on all things Sale Sharks.