Peta Hiku admits it will be a wrench to leave the Warriors, and he remains disappointed he wasn't offered a longer deal with the Auckland club.
Last Sunday the departing centre gave another reminder of why he will be missed, with a virtuoso display in the 24-22 loss to Brisbane.
He scored a brilliant try, narrowly missed another and managed one of the tackles of the season, with his try-saving stop on Anthony Milford. The 28-year-old also produced a trademark try assist, ran for 133 metres and defended superbly with 22 tackles.
It continued his strong form since his surprise return from shoulder surgery, a comeback that has coincided with the Warriors' revival.
The club has several centre options – with the potential of Rocco Berry particularly exciting – but no one with the all-round skills of Hiku.
But Hiku was only offered a one year deal, whereas North Queensland dangled a two year contract, with superior terms.
"It was disappointing," Hiku told the Herald. "This is my fourth year and obviously a club I have looked up to when I was younger, a club I have always wanted to play for.
"Coming off an injury, [the term] was something that secured my decision. An injury and a one-year deal, it's 50-50 you might not come back from it, that was the most disappointing thing. When the Cowboys put that offer up, it was the best for my family."
That uncertainty over how he would recover from what was initially diagnosed as a season-ending shoulder injury (suffered in round six) undoubtedly contributed to the Warriors' reluctance, but it could have been a misjudgement.
Hiku is an x-factor player, with flair that few other NRL centres can match, who makes things happen.
And his passion for the Warriors is bone deep, shown by his return to action, despite his looming exit.
"As soon as I found out I was going to leave the club, I didn't want it to be my last game," said Hiku. "As we went through rehab they said I would be a chance to be back. I was stoked; I wanted to finish on a high note with the club and get around the boys."
He's had quite an impact, part of three consecutive wins before Sunday.
"We had lacked a bit of control and calmness in games," said Hiku. "We went away from playing our kind of footy. We had to get positive in the team and if I could do that in my game, my job, and everyone else could sort of follow."
Sunday's loss was "pretty hard to take", especially with the playoff ramifications.
But Hiku provided more wonderful memories, especially with the Milford stop and his inventive try.
"The kick came over to me and there was no way I could have picked it up then and there, so I thought I would tap it through," recalled Hiku. "I happened to get a good kick through and the bounce was lucky."
Hiku also backed young fullback Reece Walsh, who had a mixed night against his former club and was almost in tears at the final whistle, feeling culpable after only landing one conversion from five attempts.
"It is not on him at all," said Hiku. "It's a team sport and that is just a part of footy. We probably could have done a lot more at the start of the game than worried about kicks at the end."
The veteran centre felt the 19-year-old should view the game as a learning experience.
"I don't think he should feel down about himself and if he is that is just a part of his game he will work on," said Hiku. "That's just what makes his game better. He might be disappointed in himself, [but] I'm not disappointed in him, it wasn't his fault."