Shaun Johnson has been released from the final year of his contract with the Warriors. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
Shaun Johnson has been released from the final year of his contract with the Warriors. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Johnson era ends as Warriors release star half

Shaun Johnson's time at the Warriors is over after the club announced on Wednesday the star playmaker has been released from the final year of his contract.

The mercurial halfback reportedly requested an early release from his contract on Tuesday, which Warriors chief executive Cameron George had initially knocked back.

Warriors CEO Cameron George says the club met with Johnson on Tuesday where the 162-game veteran spoke of his desire to depart Auckland.

"Yesterday (head coach) Stephen Kearney, (recruitment manager) Peter O'Sullivan and I met with Shaun and his manager Peter Brown," he said.

"During the meeting Shaun clearly demonstrated to us that he didn't want to be at the club in 2019.

"On the basis of what Shaun told us, we are not going to compromise our culture on and off the field with people who do not wish to represent our club, members and fans in the way we expect.

"Everything we do is about the club being first and what's best for our future, our development and ultimately our results.

The departure opens the door for NRL rivals to circle, with Cronulla reportedly in the box seat to secure the star playmaker's signature following the departure of Valentine Holmes.

NRL clubs have been told by an advisor of Johnson that he'll be at the Sharks in 2019, however the club failed to confirm the rumours when contacted by the Daily Telegraph.

Adding further intrigue to the playmaking merry-go-round is the reports out of St George just hours before Johnson's announcement that club captain Gareth Widdop wants an immediate release from his contract.

The situation has escalated since Johnson returned home from the Kiwis tour of England, pronouncing unhappiness this week that the club he has served since 2011 had made no offer for 2020 and beyond. The 28-year-old said he had "spread his wings" and was assessing options elsewhere.

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