No promise of first grade rugby league led to Manu Vatuvei's Warriors departure

The mental drain of not being able to get on the park for the Warriors was a big factor in Manu Vatuvei's decision to leave the club according to the veteran winger.

The 31-year-old was granted an immediate release on Monday in order to take up a contract with English Super League high-fliers Salford Red Devils.

With an offer coming through from Salford a month ago, Vatuvei said the opportunity to play consistent top flight rugby league was something he couldn't refuse.

"With everything I've been going through for the last 12-plus months, it was the right opportunity for me to start fresh and just get away from everything and have a new challenge," Vatuvei said.

"I think I was still struggling a bit mentally but physically I was feeling so good, just wanted to carry on so I thought that was the right call for myself to move on."

Vatuvei's appeared just once this season, but his stocks have dwindled in the last year, with injuries and the emergence of promising youngsters like Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Ken Maumalo forcing him out of selection favour.

Despite saying he believed he had more to give to the club and another year to run on his contract, the man dubbed "the Beast" conceded that at the beginning of 2017, it felt like it would be his last season at Mt Smart Stadium.

Manu Vatuvei
Vatuvei scoring one of his 152 career tries. Photo credit: Photosport

"I had a little feeling about it. I've always wanted to play out my career at the club, I wanted to finish here until the end of the year but things like this do happen.

"I just needed a new challenge for myself and by the way I've been going, I just wanted to keep playing footy.

"I think that was the only opportunity for me to keep playing is to go overseas and start fresh again."

Vatuvei will not play for the side again however, Mt Smart Stadium will be renamed in his honour for the Warriors game against Penrith on Friday where he'll be farewelled by the club's faithful.

Set to leave for the UK on Saturday, there's a chance Vatuvei could make his appearance for Salford as soon as July 21.