Prop Suaia Matagi will play out the rest of the 2015 season in Sydney after being released from the last six months of his contract with the Vodafone Warriors.
The 27-year-old Kiwi and Toa Samoa international, who made his NRL debut in 2013, played the last of his 36 NRL games for the Vodafone Warriors in this season’s opening round against Newcastle.
“It was a really tough call to let Suaia go midway through the season,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden.
“Everyone in our squad and at the club as a whole is full of admiration for him with the way he has turned his life around. We have supported him on his journey to redemption and watched him make the most of every opportunity he has been given.
“Naturally Suaia wants to be playing in the NRL but with the competition we have for spots he’s not getting those opportunities this season. That says a lot for the way our younger front rowers like Sam Lisone and Albert Vete have developed.
“We’d be happy to see Suaia getting the chance to play in the NRL and wouldn’t want to stand in his way. It’s not easy seeing him go in these circumstances but we wish him and his family all the best and congratulate him on what he has achieved so far.”
Matagi said he leaves the Vodafone Warriors with mixed emotions.
“It’s difficult leaving the club that has done so much for me,” he said.
“There are so many people to thank at the Vodafone Warriors. If it wasn’t for the coaching staff having faith in me and the club giving me the opportunities I’ve had I wouldn’t be where I am today. I also want to thank the members and the fans for all their support.
“I’ve loved every minute here but now my journey takes me to a new experience.”
Matagi has linked up with Sydney Roosters, who play the Vodafone Warriors at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday, June 13 and again at Allianz Stadium on Sunday, July 19.
Apart from playing 36 NRL games for the Vodafone Warriors (including all 24 games last year), Matagi appeared eight times for the club’s New South Wales Cup this year after previously playing extensively in the same competition for the Auckland Vulcans.