Fullback Wade McKinnon has been granted a release from his NRL contract with the New Zealand Warriors.
The club was approached by McKinnon's manager Alan Gainey this week seeking a release from his contract which was due to end after the 2011 NRL season.
Vodafone Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah said McKinnon (29) wanted to leave immediately to take up a new contract with Wests Tigers.
"We were committed to Wade staying with us for the rest of his contract but he wants to play first-grade football regularly and recently he hasn’t been able to do that here with Lance Hohaia firmly established at fullback in our NRL side," said Scurrah.
"Wade has made a great contribution to the club since joining us for the 2007 season and we appreciate the effort he has put in.
"But given the request for the release, the fact he hasn't been playing for the Vodafone Warriors recently and the opportunity he has with Wests Tigers, we have agreed to give him the opportunity to move on earlier than planned.
"Everyone at the club wishes him all the best for the future."
Scurrah added that while McKinnon was now free to link up with Wests Tigers on the basis he wouldn’t be considered to play for his new club against the Vodafone Warriors in this Friday night's 12th-round NRL clash at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
McKinnon has played 54 NRL matches for the Vodafone Warriors, having missed most of the 2008 season with a serious knee injury.
"It's sad leaving. I've loved my time here with the players, the staff and also living in Auckland but I have a real desire to play a lot more first-grade football," he said.
"I'm really thankful to the Vodafone Warriors for everything they've done for me and wish the club all the best for the future. I'll still be taking an interest in what’s happening here."
Vodafone Warriors coach Ivan Cleary said McKinnon would always hold a special place in the club's history.
"His form when he first arrived in 2007 was exceptional and I can honestly say I haven't seen a better try live at a ground than the one Wade scored against Penrith that year. It was unbelievable," he said.
"The thing about Wade is that he always gave you everything he had when he played. I hope everything turns out well for him in the future."
McKinnon had now played a total of 131 NRL matches, the first 77 for Parramatta (2004-06) and South Sydney (2002-03). He has scored 40 tries, 16 of them for the Vodafone Warriors.
Only problem is if Moltzen doesnt play fullback i suspect he'll end up at another club which would be really sad. This is just guess work but i feel Sheens see's Lui as his half. Its a shame Marshall couldnt nail the 7 because i think Moltzen is a natural 5/8 and will have great success if he goes to another club and plays 6.
He is a geat attacking player.However how is his injury now??.West Tigers at this time need a sound fullback,(with Tim Moltzen out).Hopefully this signing is a benifit to WT
Im not knocking the signing, i think he'll be a great buy, but i do question some of the clubs thinking. I mean, for them to sign MacKinnon now they obviously see fullback as a major concern, so why wouldnt they try the likes of Meaney and Mullaney before looking elsewhere?
Anyway, as a player Wade is very good and im happy to have him.
I wonder what this will mean for some of the other guys in the squad. Does this mean that Fitz will be dropped to the bench or cut altogether?
Does it also mean they dont expect TNT this season so they signed Mackinnon to keep Lote and Ryan on the wing?