Sam Kasiano has joined Super League outfit Catalans Dragons, bringing Melbourne back under the salary cap in time for Cameron Smith to take the paddock in round one.
The long-term security on offer from the French outfit was too good to ignore after having preliminary discussions with St George Illawarra.
The former Kiwi international leaves Melbourne after just one season of a lucrative three-year deal, having arrived last year from Canterbury.
His exit makes Melbourne cap compliant once more, with NRL.com understanding the club had been roughly $200,000 over the cap a week out from their season-opening clash with Brisbane next Thursday.
Under the NRL's 'last man in' rule, Smith was technically in the firing line if Melbourne were not cap compliant by round one, and the player that would not be permitted to play given his new two-year deal was signed after his last contract lapsed on November 1.
Smith himself sought assurance from Melbourne CEO Dave Donaghy about the situation.
"I spoke to the CEO, he's all but guaranteed me I'll be right to go," Smith said at Thursday's NRL launch.
"But when I saw those reports I was getting a bit nervous."
Kasiano leaves the NRL after 153 games for the Bulldogs and Storm, with 11 Test appearances for New Zealand (six Tests) and Samoa (five Tests).