Ryan Hoffman has signed a three-year deal to join the Warriors at the end of the season. Credit: Brett Crockford. Copyright: NRL Photos.
It was the rumour that had been circling for the past week that Storm fans prayed would not come to reality.
However on Thursday it was confirmed that favourite son Ryan Hoffman has signed a lucrative deal to join the Warriors for the next three seasons.
Hoffman will make the move at season's end after 11 seasons at the Storm since debuting as a 19-year-old in 2003.
The veteran second-rower has become a much-loved player for the fans in purple after 227 games and four grand final appearances for the club.
But this season will be the 30-year-old's last in purple as he prepares for a move across the Tasman to join the Warriors.
"I couldn't be happier with the chance to move to Auckland next year," Hoffman told the Warriors website.
"I've had a terrific time with Melbourne and obviously I still have a long way to go before I finish here. That's the immediate focus for me. I want to finish well because this club has done so much for me.
"But along with my family, I'm excited about coming to the Warriors. I've been really impressed with the club and the way they have gone about the process."
The 30-year-old reiterated on the Melbourne website that 2014 was all about the Storm.
Hoffman has been an important player for the Storm this season, ranked second behind Jesse Bromwich at the club for total hit ups (81) – a statistic he led during 2013 – as well as hit-up metres (90.8m per game).
Confirmation of Hoffman's departure came a day after the club announced it had re-signed Tohu Harris, securing the young Kiwi international until at least the end of 2017.
Hoffman's exit at season's end may now free up room in the salary cap for the Storm to retain back-rower Kevin Proctor, who has attracted interest from several clubs.
Proctor's management told NRL.com the Storm have been given until next Monday to table a final offer before the 25-year-old makes a decision on his playing future.