When Herman Ese'ese asked for an immediate release from the final year of his contract to join the Gold Coast on a $500,000-a-season deal back in February, Knights coach Adam O'Brien convinced him to hang around by telling him the offers would still be there for him if he worked hard this season.
Which is why there were no hard feelings from O'Brien when the former Kiwi Test prop informed him on Monday he was Titans' bound in 2021.
"Good luck to him," O'Brien said. "We've had really open and honest dialogue all the way through and the truth is we just weren't going to be in a position cap-wise to even get close to matching the Titans offer.
"You can't keep everyone and all you can do in the situation is wish them all the best when they do leave. But I'd like to think we'll see some really good footy from Herman before he goes."
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O'Brien showed plenty of faith in his prop after taking over as coach late last year, taking him off the market after the club had unsuccessfully tried to off-load him. So when the initial Titans release request came, O'Brien asked for some loyalty in return.
"I just said to Herman that I was there for him when his future was up in the air and he was getting shopped around at the end of last year," O'Brien said.
"I told him then I wanted him here and was really confident I could get him playing good footy and the offers will still be there at the end. That's how it's worked out."
Ese'ese admitted the decision to leave Newcastle wasn't an easy one but necessary to look after his family.
"We consider Newcastle home - I bought my first house here and we really wanted to make it home for the long run but unfortunately, we just couldn't work things out," he said.
"I needed to be in a position where I can still support my family and my partner and Gold Coast was my only option. My manager and Alex [McKinnon, Knights head of recruitment] tried to sort something out but they couldn't come up with an offer and I guess it didn't work out. I just got told they can't put an offer [to me] for next year at all so I had to move on."
Ese'ese said the prospect of moving to the Titans excites him.
"They've got a good young squad there and they are definitely on the up. They've got some key signings next year and I'm definitely excited and can't wait," he said.
"But I've put that to rest now and I'll be giving it my all this year and putting my body on the line for the boys here week in, week out."
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