10 Jul 2017

Manu Vatuvei released from Warriors

6:07 pm on 10 July 2017

Long-serving Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei has been released from his contract and will link up with Salford in the English Super League.

Manu Vatuvei

Manu Vatuvei Photo: Photosport

Vatuvei was contracted until the end of the 2018 NRL season but asked the Warriors for an early release in order to join Salford, who currently sit second on the Super League table.

A fan favourite at Mt Smart Stadium for well over a decade, Vatuvei has been restricted to just one NRL appearance in 2017 due to persistent knee and hamstring issues.

Injury limited the 31-year-old to 15 NRL appearances in 2016.

Vatuvei said the decision to leave hadn't been an easy one to make.

"I've absolutely loved my time here at the Warriors playing alongside my brothers," he said.

"I will never forget this club and just want to say a massive thank you to the club and the fans for their support over the years."

Warriors managing director Jim Doyle paid tribute to the club legend.

"We didn't make this decision lightly but after years of fantastic service to the Warriors, he's decided the time is right to head overseas and we didn't want to stand in his way," Doyle said.

"We wish him all the best for his future and while he will soon be lining up for Salford, he'll always be a Warrior in our eyes."

After making his first-grade debut in 2004, Vatuvei went on to make 226 appearances for the club.

"The Beast" quickly became a potent attacking threat on the Warriors' left wing and in 2015 became the first player in NRL history to complete the feat of scoring 10 tries or more in 10 consecutive seasons.

Vatuvei also leaves New Zealand's shores as the Warriors' all-time leading try- scorer with 152 tries. Stacey Jones is second on the list with 77.

The Warriors will be hoping to farewell Vatuvei in style at this Friday's game against the Penrith Panthers in Auckland, where the giant winger will be honoured before he departs for the United Kingdom.

Vatuvei won't be playing against the Panthers, but Doyle said fans would have the opportunity to farewell him.