The Warriors' worst fears have been confirmed with the news that standoff James Maloney won't be staying with the club beyond 2012.
Off contract at the end of next season, the 25-year-old Maloney has told the Warriors he will be continuing his NRL career in Australia from 2013.
While not revealing details about his new contract, Maloney says the decision wasn't an easy one to reach and was about wanting to move home to his family and friends.
The Warriors recruitment manager Dean Bell says the club is disappointed it was unable to retain Maloney.
Fortunately the Auckland club has signed Kiwis international Thomas Leuluai from 2013, giving them a ready-made replacement in the halves.
The incoming Warriors head coach Brian McClennan says while Maloney had now confirmed the 2012 season would be his last with the club, he again had a critical role to play.
Maloney joined the Warriors after stints with Parramatta and Melbourne.
He failed to win first-grade selection with the Eels and was used only four times by the Storm in 2009.
However, he immediately became the first-choice No.6 at Mount Smart Stadium, playing 24 of the club's 25 matches in 2010 and 27 out of 28 this year. The two games he missed were through suspension.
After scoring 188 points in his debut season - the second highest tally in the club's history - he went better again with 206 points this year, a total of 394 points in 51 games including 20 tries.