A contractual dispute between talented Sevens flyer Lionel Mapoe and the Cheetahs management may open the door for the Bulls to snap up the young star.
A report on the Sport24 website has revealed that Mapoe is involved in a contractual dispute with his employers, the Free State Rugby Union (FSRU).
The FSRU's legal representatives are scheduled to meet with Mapoe's agent in an attempt to determine whether Mapoe's contract is valid or whether he can be contracted by the Bulls for a salary of R1.4-million straight away.
Sport24 suggested that Mapoe is earning around R29 500 per month in the Super 14, which is the minimum salary for a South African player in the Super 14.
His contract with Free State is worth about R200 000 a year.
Mapoe was contracted as an unknown emerging talent by the Cheetahs in 2008 for R80 000 a year for three years, with annual increases built into the contract.
He still played for the Free State Under-21 side in 2009 and only made his mark for the senior team later in the season, after which the Cheetahs decided to increase his salary.
The Cheetahs are now believed to be willing to increase his salary to R750 000 a year within 24 months if he's prepared to extend his contract until 2012.
Mapoe's representatives believe that his current salary is not market related.
FSRU president Harold Verster confirmed that he had received a lawyer's letter from the agents in which the validity of Mapoe's contract is disputed.
"There is an issue around Mapoe's contract. His agent is looking at the issue with lawyers. The matter is sub judice because there are ongoing negotiations between the lawyers and we have a meeting scheduled for Thursday," said Verster.
"You can probably always go looking for a problem in a contract. We are quite certain our affairs are in order.
"It's a pity that this kind of thing always pops up before we play a big South African team. It's disruptive for the team and players. It's a pity that our own people in Bloemfontein disrupt our team at such a crucial time."
Verster believes Mapoe is a star and the Cheetahs would like to keep him in the long term.
"We have looked after him very well to date. He did not have a medical aid last year when he suffered a knee injury. His agents did not arrange a medical aid for him. Free State Rugby paid ZAR25,000 for his knee operation," said Verster.
"He has also had free accommodation for the past two years at the Cheetah house."
According to the report the Bulls have not made Mapoe a formal offer.