Former Kiwis coach Graham Lowe believes the Warriors will pay a heavy price for letting Shaun Johnson go, saying they were to blame for never getting the best out of the star halfback.
Lowe describes Johnson's departure as "premiership suicide".
"I compare Shaun Johnson to a Ferrari that's been sitting in a garage for eight years, and it's never been taken for a drive," said Lowe.
"The Warriors have never found the right button and it's a great shame the fans haven't seen the best from him."
Lowe saw the writing on the wall for Johnson last September when the Warriors were eliminated from the finals by Penrith.
In a sub-par team performance, Johnson's quiet game was singled out for widespread criticism.
"I felt sorry for Shaun because the media really kicked him, it was full on and the club didn't say a thing to defend their player. It was piss-weak management."
Lowe said he doesn't know Johnson personally so could not comment on reports the playmaker wasn't a diligent trainer and sometimes lacked a hard-nosed attitude.
But he was a huge admirer of his on-field deeds, borne out in historic Warriors results.
With Johnson on the park, the Kiwi club won 47 per cent of their games (76 from 162). When he was missing, that figure dropped to 23 per cent (5 from 22).
Johnson, he said, had developed into a different type of player, lacking the electricity of his early seasons but boasting a wider range of skills and physically capable of holding his own.
Lowe said the whole Johnson affair was an indictment on the club, who he reckoned had blundered earlier by releasing backup option Mason Lino to the Newcastle Knights.
It leaves the Warriors scrambling for a halfback at short notice and Lowe doesn't think they'll get near anyone with Johnson's quality.
"Who's out there? I think it's premiership suicide," he said.
"They were probably not going to win the thing anyway but they've lost their best player, by a long way. Who's going to win them matches now?"
- AAP / RNZ