NRL: New Zealand Warriors release halfback Mason Lino as Newcastle Knights swoop

Mason Lino inn action for the Warriors in 2018.
Mason Lino inn action for the Warriors in 2018. Photo credit: Getty

Mason Lino will not be with the New Zealand Warriors in 2019 after the club confirmed on Tuesday they have granted him an early release.

The 24-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the Newcastle Knights after a two-week negotiation period with coach Nathan Brown, who met with Lino while visiting New Zealand earlier this month.

Lino was recently given permission by the club to test the open market,  as it is understood he wasn't prepared to spend another season as back up half to Shaun Johnson and Blake Green.

Warriors general manager of football Brian Smith said the club was reluctant to let the talented playmaker leave.

"It's not an easy decision to let Mason go because he is the epitome of a true club man and we all love having him around," Smith told Warriors.kiwi.

"He has been totally dedicated to the Vodafone Warriors but we didn't want to stand in the way of him having a look at options with other clubs.

"His opportunities for NRL football have been limited here and he has more than earned the right to look at the chance of more regular exposure."

Lino has been with the club since 2012, making his first grade debut in 2016.

"It's tough leaving the club because it has been my home and I'm so thankful for all the opportunities I've had here but I'm also excited about what's ahead for me," Lino said.

Lino finishes his stint at the New Zealand club having played 17 NRL games, including a standout 2018 when filling in for Johnson or Green, scoring three tries in eight appearances.

Newshub.

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