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Townsend switches from Sharks to join Warriors for rest of season

Chad Townsend will help the Warriors push for the finals after being granted an immediate release by the Sharks.

The 2016 premiership winner is set to form a short-term halves partnership with Kodi Nikorima before joining the Cowboys on a three-year deal starting in 2022.

Townsend, who played 41 games for the Warriors from 2014-15, will be available for the New Zealand club’s round 16 clash with St George Illawarra on July 2.

The 30-year-old hasn’t played first grade since round 11, with his last act as a Shark being slotting an extra-time field goal to defeat the Dragons.

“The nine seasons I’ve spent here at the Sharks has been an incredible journey for myself and my family,” Townsend said.

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“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Sharks members and fans for their support over that period.

“I leave this club with a lot of wonderful memories, with the club's maiden 2016 premiership something I will never forget.”

He added on social media: "My time here has come to an end, but my memories will last forever. With my greatest memory being our 2016 Premiership win."

The 11th-placed Warriors have struggled to close out matches and Townsend’s 187-game experience could be just what they need.

His signing comes after season-ending injuries to playmakers Chanel Harris-Tavita (pectoral) and Paul Turner (shoulder).

The veteran game-manager’s addition is complemented by that of representative outside back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who was released by the Bulldogs on Monday.

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“Bringing a player of Chad’s calibre and experience back to the club at this time of the year is terrific for us,” Warriors coach Nathan Brown said.

“He has impressed as one of the NRL’s most consistent halfbacks throughout his career and he’s a proven performer in big games.

“We’re certainly delighted we’ve been able to sign him and it’s a real positive that he knows our club so well.”

“The timing couldn’t be better for us being able to sign Chad,” Warriors CEO Cameron George added.

“Bringing in Chad as well as Dallin gives us enormous experience and leadership which will be invaluable for us as we look to resume our season following the bye round.”

With Shaun Johnson and Matt Moylan combining nicely for Cronulla, Townsend has spent the past two weeks playing for Newtown in NSW Cup.

The Yarrawarrah junior’s return to the Warriors means he’ll finish with 146 NRL appearances in black, white and blue - and a place in history as the first Sharks No.7 to win a title.

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Having debuted for Cronulla in 2011, he was emotional about the prospect of leaving the Sharks in April when he announced that he’d signed with North Queensland to set up his family’s future.

Cronulla CEO Dino Mezzatesta acknowledged Townsend’s contribution to his boyhood club.

“Chad has been a great servant and an outstanding ambassador for this club, highlighted by his efforts in helping us claim the 2016 premiership,” Mezzatesta said.

“He will always be remembered and recognised by our members and fans for his contribution to the success we have enjoyed here at the Sharks.

“It’s probably fitting that our last memory of Chad in a Sharks jersey will be him kicking that match-winning field goal in our victory over the Dragons back in round 11.

“He has an exciting opportunity at the Cowboys and we wish him well in Townsville next year and also for whatever the rest of this season might bring.”

No clause was reportedly inserted in Townsend’s contract to prevent him playing against Cronulla, so he could face his old side in rounds 17 and 21.