Warriors CEO Cameron George says halfback Shaun Johnson yesterday clearly demonstrated he didn't want to be at the club next season.

"Yesterday (head coach) Stephen Kearney, (recruitment manager) Peter O'Sullivan and I met with Shaun and his manager Peter Brown," he said.

"On the basis of what Shaun told us, we are not going to compromise our culture on and off the field with people who do not wish to represent our club, members and fans in the way we expect.

"Everything we do is about the club being first and what's best for our future, our development and ultimately our results.


"While it's disappointing it has come to this, we must acknowledge the contribution Shaun has made to the Vodafone Warriors. We're proud of what he has achieved at the club and wish him all the best for the future."

Johnson finishes his Warriors career with 917 points from 162 appearances.

"Shaun has been a fantastic player ... but it's about a club-first mentality," George said.

"Once we finalise the paperwork today, Shaun will be released immediately."

Johnson made his Warriors debut against the Roosters in the 2011 before leading the side to the grand final in his first season.

But the club failed to make the playoffs again until this season when they were defeated by the Panthers in the first week.

It's unclear where the former Golden Boot winner might land but Cronulla are believed to be the early front-runners among a group of at least four clubs willing to bid for him. The Sharks face possible salary cap dramas but could have room for the Kiwis halfback with the departure of Valentine Homes to try his luck in the NFL.

St George Illawarra have also emerged as a potential destination with news out of Sydney that star playmaker Gareth Widdop has sought a release from the last three years of his contract to return home to England.


League great Johnathan Thurston told the Radio Sport Breakfast last week that a club such as the Roosters would be an ideal spot for Johnson to land.

The developments come after the club announced last month they had informed Johnson and his agent they were in no rush to re-sign the mercurial playmaker beyond next season.

Johnson was told he was free to test his value and explore his options on the open market.

The Warriors are believed to have plans in the pipeline to replace the 162-game veteran long-term but is unclear who they plan on placing in the halves alongside five-eighth Blake Green next season.

"This isn't a tough time. It's an exciting time. It's a great opportunity to reset the balance of our squad," George said.

"We are in the best position in terms of salary cap. Two very busy people in the back office looking at options for 2019.

"It's business. It's club first."