Newcastle signing James Gavet says the Warriors told him he'd spend the 2019 season playing reserve grade if he remained in Auckland on a lucrative back-ended contract.
The 29-year-old prop made a shock departure from the Warriors after signing with the Knights on a two-year deal last November, and is set to begin the NRL season partnering former Bulldog enforcer David Klemmer in the front-row.
Gavet played 17 of 19 games for the Warriors last year to help earn a considerable contract upgrade but says the club forced him out to create room under the salary cap before implying he had been let go because of a poor work ethic.
"They said they were happy with me to play until the end of the season and then they ended up needing to push a couple of players out just because of couple new signings they had made, a few boys having their contracts upgraded including mine," Gavet told NRL.com.
"I was going to be on close to double what I was on last year so I think it was just a safer option for them to free up some money.
"…It's a business at the end of the day and it's the way the cookie crumbles.
"I've been around the traps for a while so I hold no bad blood over it, but I was looking forward to that big contract coming into fruition after all the hard work I've put in.
"In the end they weren't too keen on me staying and if I stayed they said I'd have to cop a few things. They said I'd have to play in State Cup and that even after starting all year.
"They don't get rid of you but they force your hand and in the end they tell the media that 'he left and he was a bad trainer' and whatnot."
Gavet's release from the Warriors followed his axing from the team for the final-round clash against Canberra after he was understood to have been late to training and a couple of club functions, before he returned to the starting side for the following week's qualifying-final loss to Penrith.
Warriors CEO Cameron George denied a lack of discipline played a role in Gavet's exit and declined to comment on his claims that he was told he would play in the Intrust Super Premiership if he chose to see out his contract.
"There's no drama from us in terms of James," George told NRL.com.
"I found James a terrific person. A good club man and obviously from the coach's perspective the opportunity arose with Newcastle and whatever discussions they had with him, it was the best option for him to go to Newcastle.
"That conversation [about Gavet's first-grade prospects] wouldn't happen with myself. Any conversation he had would've been with the coaching staff no doubt around the football side of things.
"From my perspective James was a terrific contributor to the club, he was a fan favourite and he did good things. I wish him all the best and I'm sure he'll do great."
Gavet could make his first appearance against his former Warriors teammates when the Knights travel to Auckland in round eight.
Newcastle will be his fifth club with injuries and off-field dramas limiting his game time in stints with the Bulldogs, Wests Tigers and Broncos, before he went on to play 42 of his 56 career games at the Warriors.
The veteran forward left two young children behind in Auckland and is focussed on getting his career back on track under Knights coach Nathan Brown, who has gone out of his way to help him adjust to his new surrounds.
"He's been really good for me not just with my footy and training but he's been really welcoming to me and my wife," he told NRL.com.
"I'm really enjoying being under Brownie. He's helping me grow as a player. I'm not the youngest player anymore but it's funny, as soon as you think you're getting a handle on the dos and don'ts, there's always more to learn and something you can take from someone like Brownie.
"There were other clubs that were interested. A few Super League clubs, a couple of NRL clubs but we heard about the direction that the Knights were moving in and we were ready for a change up and to venture out.
"I'm feeling as if my footy career would grow further here than it would at the Warriors even if it meant that I had to cop moving away from family again.
"Leaving my two kids back in Auckland was a big decision to make but we've been in contact and my parents and all my loved ones are happy for me."