An emotional Chad Townsend insists his decision to move to North Queensland was about his own long-term security and not Cronulla's coaching predicament.
Townsend on Wednesday became the first domino to fall in what shapes as a long year of halves movements, taking up a three-year deal with the Cowboys.
With an option in his favour to remain at the Sharks next year and another option in the club's favour for 2023, Townsend walked away for three more years guaranteed in Townsville.
The 30-year-old told teammates of his move on Wednesday morning after days of speculation, meaning 2021 will be his last of nine seasons at his junior club.
It comes just a week after John Morris was axed as Sharks coach, with Townsend one of his strongest supporters.
But the 2016 premiership-winner insisted the option to head north was in the works for a long period of time.
"This decision has been for (my family) and the security of them and to really provide us with a good future," Townsend said.
"I had the decision to stay next year and then potentially put my fate into the club's hands about them taking up my option.
"Or I had a deal for three years to lock it in and just really get the stability I was after at this stage of my career."
Townsend also revealed he told new Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon as soon he could about the offer, before confirming to him on Tuesday he would walk away.
"He said he would've loved to have coached me and that was part of the plan for next season," Townsend said.
"(But) he appreciated that I was able to have that conversation with him face to face."
His signature comes as a coup for the Cowboys, who had been searching for a game manager to replace the medically retired Michael Morgan.
It will have significant flow-on effects.
The Cowboys had initially gone after Adam Reynolds, but that is now out of the question.
Reynolds is yet to be offered the multi-year deal he wants at South Sydney and is still sounding out the market for next season.
A shift to Cronulla is an increasingly likely option, with Brisbane another alternative given Tom Dearden has also caught the eye of the Cowboys.
The Sharks also still have Shaun Johnson and Matt Moylan off contract this year, with potential suitors waiting to see how Johnson returns from a ruptured achilles.
Townsend's move north will quash any rumours about Luke Brooks leaving Wests Tigers to head there, a move both the player and his club had denied.
Instead, the Tigers insist Jackson Hastings will play on the ball at lock on arriving from England next year.
Meanwhile, Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses is another No.7 still not locked in for next season, yet to activate an option in his favour to stay at the Eels.
St George Illawarra's Corey Norman, Brisbane's Anthony Milford and Gold Coast's Ash Taylor are among other playmakers still unsigned after 2021.