Bullocking hooker Brandon Smith has apologised to the Storm for comments made in a recent podcast before the club confirmed the 2022 season will be his last at Melbourne.
The Storm released a statement on Tuesday giving their blessing for Smith to leave the club at the end of next year after six seasons.
It comes after the 25-year-old met with heavyweights Sydney Roosters and new franchise the Dolphins in recent weeks.
Smith's future looks all but certain to be in Bondi after the Maori All Stars representative spoke about his desire to join the Roosters in a recent YTKR fan podcast.
His comments have been met with a mixed response from the public but the hooker clarified several on Tuesday before the club confirmed his pending departure.
"I want to address current media speculation going on around me at the moment, and specifically my recent comments on the YKTR Sports podcast," Smith wrote on Instagram.
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"Over the past two months I've read multiple headlines about me day in day out, many of which were untrue, and none that came from my mouth directly.
"I done [sic] this podcast for that very reason. To be fully transparent about the process I've been going through.
"It's honestly been really exciting throughout and I'm truly grateful to be in the position I'm in. One thing I pride myself on is being myself, and regardless of backlash, I will continue to do so.
"That being said, I do acknowledge and want to apologise for how some of the comments have been received."
Smith apologised to the Storm, with whom he made his NRL debut with in 2017, before indicating he vowed to give "100 percent" to their 2022 campaign.
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"My focus is now fully turned to the future with the Melbourne Storm and all the amazing opportunities laid before me," he said.
"Whatever happens I will give 100%, it's all I know."
Storm CEO Justin Rodski said Smith's comments on the podcast, which included discussing the club's off-field culture, "do not align with Storm's values and the way we operate as a club" before accepting his apology.
"The statements have deeply offended current and former players, coaches, staff and board members and the club strongly rejects the comments made about the Storm culture," Rodski said.
"We acknowledge Brandon’s apology made on social media today and his willingness now to prepare for the 2022 season with Storm.
"Brandon has every right to explore future opportunities as any player would in his position, and ultimately we respect his decision to play football elsewhere from 2023."
Meanwhile the Panthers released a statement on Tuesday rejecting Smith's claim on the podcast that the premiers had expressed interest in acquiring his services.
The statement said that the Panthers strongly rejected that assertion and at no stage had they expressed interest in acquiring Smith’s services nor had they had any contact with the Storm, Smith or his management.
“While there would be no ill intent in making the comment, mistruths like this can and do have a tangible impact on our club’s actual business dealings,” Panthers general manager rugby league Matt Cameron said.
“We felt it important to correct the public record on this occasion.”