MACKAY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 02: Josh McGuire of the Cowboys warms up before the start of the NRL Trial match between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys on March 02, 2019 in Mackay, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

North Queensland veteran Josh McGuire has joined the Dragons on an early release.

According to NRL.comboth the Cowboys and Dragons have agreed to a deal that will see the 31-year-old join St George Illawarra, with McGuire a chance to face the Warriors at Jubilee Stadium in Round 6.

McGuire was notified by North Queensland that he would be free to assess his options elsewhere earlier this month, with an 18-month deal with the Dragons now finalised.

The Cowboys will continue to pay a portion of McGuire's salary and won't receive a player in return.

Dragons playmaker Adam Clune had been linked to a swap deal that would have seen him head to Townsville, with reports now putting a line through any move of the sort.

McGuire's departure - added to Michael Morgan's retirement and the recent exit of Wiremu Greig - is sure to open up a war chest of salary cap space for the Cowboys.

North Queensland have previously been linked to off-contract halfback pair Adam Reynolds and Tom Dearden, as they look to fill the imminent void left by the departing Jake Clifford and Morgan.

The Dragons have enjoyed life under new coach Anthony Griffin, with last Sunday's win over the Eels their fourth consecutive victory of the season.

McGuire will reunite with Griffin in Wollongong following their time together at Red Hill, which also included current Dragons incumbents Ben Hunt and Andrew McCullough.