Warriors chief executive Cameron George concedes the early departure of Matt Lodge is far from ideal, but says it is the pragmatic solution in the circumstances.
The 26-year-old prop has played his last game for the Warriors, after being granted an early release on Friday.
Lodge joined the Auckland club last July on a deal until the end of this season, with an option in his favour for 2023.
The Warriors and Lodge had ongoing discussions about his future since the start of the year, and while it always seemed unlikely he would commit to a long-term contract, there had been no indication that a sudden exit was on the cards.
It's another blow for the Warriors, as Lodge has been one of their most consistent forwards this season, with the team often struggling for momentum when he is off the field.
Now they will have to navigate 13 games without him, starting with today's clash against the Dragons (5pm).
"[Lodge] has been going great," George told the Herald. "[But] that is where we landed because he felt it was the best way forward. We had a chat with [Nathan Brown], we understand the situation and we granted it. You want to keep all the good players for a long time but it is just the way it is.
"You don't ever want to go into these discussions but there was a mutual understanding there. He felt this was the best option going forward and we thought about it and that was the decision we came up with."
George said the club would now consider their next move, depending on who is available in the market.
"We will give it some thought," he said. "This hasn't been a strategic plan of his or ours. It just sort of came up and discussions took place so we will see where we land."
Lodge made his Warriors debut in round 17 last year, after a mid-season switch from Brisbane.
He has been impressive in this campaign, particularly prominent in the victories over the Tigers, Broncos and Raiders, and will leave a considerable void, though Tohu Harris and Josh Curran - when he returns from injury - will add starch to the middle.
Lodge's unwillingness to relocate to Auckland was given as the reason for his decision.
"I couldn't see my family living in New Zealand for a long-term future," Lodge said in a club statement.
"Therefore we decided that the best thing for the club was for us to mutually part ways so they have some clarity. I respect the club and especially the boys a lot and hopefully I showed that by the way I trained and played physical and gave my all every game."
His apparent unwillingness to see out the rest of this campaign is disappointing, especially as the Warriors helped him relaunch his career last year, when it was clear he was slipping down the pecking order at the Broncos.
It's expected that Lodge will link with another NRL club before the end of the season, though George said that subject wasn't broached in discussions over the last few days.
Lodge may also become a target for expansion club Redcliffe Dolphins for 2023, given his close association with their head of recruitment Peter O'Sullivan.
O'Sullivan, who is Lodge's father-in-law, played a big role in bringing the prop to the Warriors last year.