Manu Vatuvei was always unlikely to see out the last year of his Warriors contract, though the offer from Salford accelerated his exit from the club.
The Warriors' legend confirmed on Monday his departure for the Super League club, after a final farewell before the Panthers clash this Friday night.
But Vatuvei admitted today that "he had a feeling" at the start of this year that it could be his last at Mt Smart, despite being contracted until the end of 2018.
Time was ticking for the `Beast'. He knew it, the club knew it and even the fan base has come to accept it, accentuated by the impact of Ken Maumalo this year, which made it possible to imagine a Warriors' backline without Vatuvei.
Discussions have been ongoing with the Warriors over the last few months about his future, with retirement at the end of this season a realistic option.
But then the offer from Salford came through - just under a month ago - which piqued Vatuvei's interest in the Northern Hemisphere challenge.
"I wanted to finish here at the club at the end of the year but I needed a new challenge," said Vatuvei. "I just wanted to keep playing footy. The only opportunity for me to keep playing was to go overseas and start fresh again."
The 31-year-old said while physically he was "feeling good" - though the effect of smashing himself into brick walls for 226 first grade games has taken a massive toll - he perhaps wasn't in the right head space for the intense NRL challenge.
"With everything I have been going through for the last 12 months I thought this was the right opportunity to start again," said Vatuvei. "Mentally I was struggling."
Those struggles were heightened after the fallout from the sleeping bills/energy drinks episode last year, following the 42-0 loss to Melbourne.
While there were five other players involved, including Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson, it seemed to have the greatest impact on Vatuvei, who didn't return for more than a month, after a period of leave.
That was the first sign that Vatuvei was no longer indestructible, and coupled with his increasing inability to shake off injury niggles, probably signalled the beginning of the last chapter.
But it's going to be a difficult goodbye, with an emotional Vatuvei today still coming to terms with his decision
"The club is like another family", said Vatuvei. "They stuck by me through the highs and lows. I can't thank them enough. It's always hard leaving your family."
Assuming his work visa has come through, Vatuvei will leave for England on Sunday, putting him in contention to play for the Red Devils next weekend. Warriors managing director Jim Doyle summed up the move as a "win/win" scenario.
"It's good for Manu to try something different," said Doyle. "And none of us wanted to see Manu finish his career playing reserve grade...it's a good way for a legend to leave."
Vatuvei was a honorary selection in the Warriors team to play Penrith on Friday, named in the number five jersey one last time. He won't take the field, but will be a central focus. Mt Smart will be renamed Manu Vatuvei stadium for the night, and the home team will have his name, signature and Warriors number (115) inscribed on their jerseys.