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Shaun Johnson’s sudden departure has left the Warriors eyeing an unexpected chance to press the reset button on their NRL ambitions.

The team that takes the park in 2019 will be without two club greats in retired second rower Simon Mannering and halfback Johnson, whose request for an early release has been granted.

Mannering will effectively be replaced by Dragons forward Leeson Ah Mau, the biggest signing the Warriors had made in a relatively quiet off-season to date.

However, swathes of budget space has been opened up in Johnson’s absence, shoving the Warriors quickly into recruitment mode to unearth a partner for veteran half Blake Green.

Chief executive Cameron George said general manager of football Brian Smith and recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan would be busy over coming days.

“We are in a position where I would say potentially we are the best-positioned NRL club salary cap-wise,” George said.

“There’s two very busy people in the back office now looking at all options heading into 2019. The phone’s been running hot.”

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Shaun Johnson has left a huge hole in the Warriors’ roster.Source:Getty Images

The Warriors released Mason Lino to the Newcastle Knights in September and his backup halfback role was catered for by signing former Bulldogs and Panthers reserve grade youngster Adam Keighran.

It is unlikely Keighran or Warriors junior Chanel Harris-Tevita will be deemed ready to hold down a regular starting halves slot.

Few quality halves are on the market although Smith’s former club, Parramatta, have reportedly tested the market with halves Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman as they try to free up cap space.

George stressed the need to be patient in finding the right fit.

“We have the experts now who can really reset the balance of the squad and will do so,” he said.

“This is about getting it right and we’ve got a chance to do that at a time we didn’t expect to.

“But we’re not going to rush us into what we think is just a necessity. We’re going to find the right person to fulfil the roles that we require to get the best chance of winning this competition.”

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