The New Zealand Warriors have granted a release to Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, who has signed with the North Queensland Cowboys on the same day..
The prop was off-contract with the relocated outfit at the end of 2022, and in a statement, the Warriors mentioned they were unable to offer the 24-year-old a contract beyond the end of next season, with Taunoa-Brown locking up a long-term deal elsewhere.
The deal has since been revealed to be a two-year contract, with Taunoa-Brown to be located in Townsville until at least the end of the 2023 season.
The announcement comes as something of a surprise. Taunoa-Brown seemingly wasn't in the first-choice rotation for Nathan Brown, however, his size and hard running style saw him make waves following his 2020 debut at the top level.
Taunoa-Brown made 19 appearances in his rookie season, before making another 13 in 2020, taking his tally to 32 with the club.
The statement announcing his release from the club states Taunoa-Brown has a long-term offer elsewhere, which the Warriors weren't going to stand in the way of.
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Warriors' recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan confirmed the news in the statement.
“Jamayne has asked for a release from his current contract and it has been granted,” O'Sullivan said.
“Unfortunately we were unable to offer him a contract beyond 2022 so, with his best interests in mind, we’ve reluctantly agreed to let him go so he can accept a long-term offer for his future and security.
“It’s unfortunate to lose Jamayne as we have seen him progress from the Intrust Super Cup at Brisbane Norths to train and trial then a top 30 contract but we couldn’t stand in his way of accepting such a good offer considering our current crop of middles.
“We thank him for his efforts and wish him well moving forward.”
Todd Payten said he was excited about Taunoa-Brown joining the Cowboys.
“Jamayne’s a big body, who moves well and can play big minutes,” Payten said.
“He’s got soft hands, light feet and he’s technically sound defensively.
“He’s a quiet kid who took an opportunity on a train and trial at the Warriors, worked his tail off and earned his way into an NRL system through the backdoor after not being signed out of under 20s.
“I am really excited to have him join us at the Cowboys and I envisage him playing an important role for us over the next two seasons.”
The Warriors still hold a strong crop of middles following the mid-season acquisition of Matt Lodge, who joined Addin Fonua-Blake and Tohy Harris, as well as the likes of Bunty Afoa and Ben Murdoch-Masila.
Taunoa-Brown had a mid-season short-term loan stint with the St Geroge Illawarra Dragons while at the Warriors.
He will however be in with a chance at a spot in the Cowboys side. While Jason Taumalolo will either line up at prop or lock, names like Jordan McLean and Coen Hess will form his competition for the other spots in the middle third.