Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson has reportedly requested an early release from his NRL contract after talks broke down with club management.
Bloated salary caps at most rival clubs creates uncertainty over where the 28-year-old’s manager Peter Brown will set his sights.
However, it’s believed Cronulla is his most likely destination if he does secure a release, thanks to the cash freed up following fullback Valentine Holmes’ departure to pursue his NFL dream.
Johnson is unhappy the Warriors haven’t shown interest in extending his contract beyond next season and NZME reports he wants to play elsewhere in 2019 rather than a ninth season in Auckland.
Johnson met with Warriors chief executive Cameron George and coach Stephen Kearney on Tuesday, 24 hours after venting displeasure at the club’s attitude on social media.
George hasn’t returned calls to AAP but it is understood he has declined Johnson’s request for a release.
It is unclear if the the club will relent and consider tabling a reduced offer to tempt their record pointscorer to stay put.
Johnson’s departure would leave the Kiwi outfit scrambling to find a halfback next year to partner Blake Green.
Their backup for the last two seasons, Mason Lino, has left for the Newcastle Knights.
Johnson’s form has been inconsistent in recent seasons, including this year’s campaign in which they reached the finals for the first time since his debut in 2011.
His current two-year contract was believed to be a club record seven figure deal, which he is halfway through.
On Monday, Johnson said on Facebook he was irritated the club won’t make an offer for 2020.
“That means I get to spread my wings and see what’s out there so right now that’s what I’m doing!”