A tweet from Warriors owner co-Eric Watson welcoming the signing of Kieran Foran sent fans and media into a spin this afternoon before the businessman set the record straight.
"Gt signing for @NZWarriors with Kieran Foran - exciting player. Gt game yday against Samoa Welcome to the Warriors family #WarriorsForever," read the initial tweet, which appeared on Watson's account less than an hour ago.
That was quickly followed by a second tweet from Watson, apologising to fans for raising their hopes.
"I definitely need to lay off the Halloween punch sorry to cause such a stir. Kieran Foran is on our wish list but not signed. Apologies fans," he said.
Foran, who featured in the Kiwis 14-12 win over Samoa yesterday has been identified as a likely target for the Warriors for 2016, with his contract with Manly finishing at the end of next season.
Warriors director of football Dean Bell was quick to deny the club had signed the 24-year-old and suggested Watson's account may have been hacked.
"No, that is incorrect, take it from me," Bell said. "I think someone may have hacked his account or something."
Foran was unavailable for comment but Kiwis management also denied the signing rumour on his behalf.
As reported by the Herald on Sunday, the Warriors have made it clear Foran would be a welcome addition to the club's roster.
The idea of him joining Kiwis No7 Shaun Johnson in the halves at club level is a mouth-watering prospect with many believing his talent and leadership would help propel the Warriors to premiership success.
"He's a player every club would like to have," said Bell. "He will be hot property on the market and Manly will also be keen to keep him. But players like him don't come on the market very often and we would be daft not to have a look at him. We will be talking to a number of players but he would be near the top of our list."
Foran, who grew up in Auckland and played for the Ellerslie Eagles as a junior, made his NRL debut in 2009 and has since racked up 128 NRL games (30 tries).
Before he signed his current Sea Eagles contract, Foran was chased by several teams, including the Storm and Bulldogs. His next deal is expected to move him into the top echelon of NRL earners, occupied by the likes of Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis (and Sam Burgess and Jarryd Hayne before they departed).
Foran has previously appeared to be the kind of player who would want to be a one-club man, but the internal strife that has plagued Manly this year may have been damaging.
Foran has seen close friends such as Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough depart and the future of others such as Brett Stewart and Steve Matai are up in the air.
"I'm a bit all over the joint in terms of my future," Foran told Australian media after Manly's 18-17 loss to the Bulldogs in the preliminary final. "One day I get up and I think it'd be brilliant to stay here for the rest of my career, the next day I get up and think, 'Aw s***, maybe I should have a change'. I've got some tough times ahead of me to think about what I want to do."
- Additional reporting Michael Burgess