Sydney Roosters co-captain Boyd Cordner insists he understands Mitchell Pearce's decision to ask for a release but he thought all along the NSW halfback would stay at the club.
Pearce requested, and was granted, a release from the Roosters on Monday in the wake of the club signing Melbourne Storm playmaker Cooper Cronk.
"It's sad to see him leave, but also as a mate I am happy that he has made that decision and I support him 100 per cent of the way," Cordner said at Kangaroos training in Brisbane on Tuesday.
"With Mitchell wanting to be a No.7 and run the team, which you can understand, that is just the way it panned out."
Cordner spoke to Pearce when he was on holidays recently and let him know how he felt about the situation, while adding he wanted to let him have his own space.
"He gave me a call when he came back before he went to see the Roosters and let me know he was going to ask for a release and try and look elsewhere," Cordner said.
"I thought all along - I don't know if I was just hopeful - that he was going to stay … but it wasn't to be.
"I understand and I can respect his decision."
Cordner was unsure where Pearce would end up. Manly, Cronulla and Newcastle are the frontrunners to secure his services.
The Broncos have confirmed they are not interested in Pearce's signature.
"Whoever gets him is going to be a lucky club," Cordner said.
Cordner said the Roosters were excited about Cronk coming on board and he had personally reassured him of that fact.
"You look at the halfback we have just signed, he is a Queensland Origin halfback, a premiership-winning halfback and also the Australian halfback," he said.
"We have also made another good signing with James Tedesco.
"Pearcey is a great player on the football field and some of the stuff he does no-one else can do, but in saying that I don't think we will lose much with Cooper Cronk coming into the side.
"Cooper Cronk is a Rooster now and he is going to be a massive help to our club going forward."
Cordner said he was not consulted before Cronk was signed and had not spoken to Pearce since Monday.