For departing Warriors prop Ben Matulino, the Ivan Cleary factor was the single biggest reason in his decision to sign for the West Tigers.

It was confirmed close to midnight on Tuesday night that Matulino had agreed terms with the Sydney club, after a weeks of speculation about his future.

The Warriors statement emphasized that Matulino wanted to experience "living in Sydney with his family" but the 28-year-old confirmed that his close relationship with Cleary sealed the deal.

"I've always had a close bond with [Cleary] and he was the main drawcard for me," Matulino told Radio Sport last night. "I know how he operates - seeing what he has done with other teams - and I was pretty keen to get on board with that."


Matulino also revealed that he came extremely close to signing for Penrith to rejoin Cleary a few years ago, and obviously wasn't going to pass up another opportunity.

"A couple of years back he almost got me to Penrith," said Matulino. "I was a couple of days away from signing there and I ended up staying with the Warriors. [This decision was about] linking up with my old coach and testing myself in a different environment. For me it was about getting a fresh start - starting from the bottom of the pecking order and working my way up."

Cleary gave Matulino his NRL debut at the Warriors in 2008, and three seasons later Matulino was the cornerstone of the Warriors pack that went to the grand final. He has had patches of good form over the last few seasons, but never really recaptured his best under the Warriors' revolving cast of coaches since 2012.

The news is another blow to the Auckland club, off the back of Kieran Foran's likely move to the Bulldogs for the 2018 season.

Matulino managed 48 minutes in Tuesday night's 20-14 loss to the Storm, his first match of the season after a longer than expected recovery from knee surgery.

Listen: Ben Matulino talks to Radio Sport