NRL: Warriors' split with Shaun Johnson 'premiership suicide', claims Graham Lowe

Kiwi rugby league legend Graham Lowe has branded the Warriors' messy divorce with star half Shaun Johnson as "premiership suicide".

The Auckland-based NRL club has granted its star half an early release from his 2019 contract, after telling him to test his value on the open market.

Johnson, who is reportedly on a million-dollar deal with the Warriors, demanded the early exit in a fiery meeting on Tuesday and chief executive Cameron George announced they had granted him that wish at a media conference on Wednesday morning.

But Lowe, who was once a part owner of the Warriors, insists the club may ultimately rue its decision.

"History will show it'll be a good move for Shaun," says the former Kiwis, Manly and Queensland State-of-Origin coach. "He'll blossom under a different environment.

"For the club's position, I just think it's terrible that it's got this far. I think it's premiership suicide, to tell you the truth.

"You're not talking about just a good player... you're talking about, in my view, the best player in the club."

Lowe, 72, is disappointed the separation played out on the public stage through media and social media.

"It didn't look fair, it's an ugly way to end. 

"When I first found out about it yesterday, I was talking to Shaun's manager. One of the things I said to him was, 'mate, when you fall out of love, you can't fall back in love'.

"Anyone who's experienced it knows it and it had gone too far. Shaun had to demand an immediate release - that's the only way it would've worked.

"At the end of the day, the goal of everybody is to win the premiership and they've just let go the one player who could've delivered it."


Contact Newshub with your story tips: