Shaun Johnson has spoken out for the first time after being granted an early release from his contract with the Warriors.
Warriors CEO Cameron George announced the news to the media this morning, and said that the release was effective immediately.
This comes after Johnson, who signed a two-year million-dollar deal with the club in 2017, requested the release on Tuesday, as first reported by the Herald.
Johnson took to Instagram in a heartfelt message to the team, his supporters and fans.
"Maaan where do I start? What a crazy couple of days it's been," Johnson wrote on the social media site, along with a picture of himself signing the release.
"By now you all know I have been granted a release. (Pics of me signing it)"
"To think my time at Mt Smart playing for my hometown team has officially come to an end is one of mixed emotions.. Thank you to the boys and everyone thats been involved with the Warriors over the past 8 years. I really am grateful and will never loose sight of how different my life could be if it wasnt for all of you."
Johnson admitted that the public outcry over his contract situation wasn't "ideal", but was optimistic about the future.
"So much has been said publicly over the past month which hasn't been Ideal but is what it is. I've got nothing bad to say about anyone involved with the club, sometimes things just dont work out and I know they will be sweet and take things to where we all want them to be.
"Those of you that have followed my journey probably still cant believe this is actually happening. I just want to let you know that I'm ok and really looking foward to what's next! I get to go somewhere fresh and take my game to a new level..how good! Thank you for believing and and keeping me strong, we all know it hasn't been a smooth ride but with out your support I wouldn't be who I am. I've loved entertaining, chatting and getting photos with you and if ya stay with me I'll continue to do so.. Stay happy fam and thanks for all the positive messages, I'll let ya know what's next once it's all confirmed.
"No hate, all love as always."
Johnson made his debut for the Warriors against the Roosters in the 2011 before leading the side to the grand final in his first season. But the side 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 his services. 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 overnight 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 like the Roosters would be an ideal spot for Johnson to land.
The developments come after the club announced last month that they had informed Johnson and his agent that 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."