Young NRL fullback Scott Drinkwater has been granted an immediate release from his Melbourne contract to join North Queensland.
Exciting young fullback Scott Drinkwater has been released from Melbourne to join North Queensland and he could be playing for his new NRL side as soon as Friday night against St George Illawarra.
Drinkwater had already signed with the Cowboys for 2020 and sought an early release with the Townsville side facing an injury crisis in their backs.
The 22-year-old started the season as top pick to replace the retired Billy Slater but suffered a pectoral injury in the pre-season and was unable to force his way back into the Storm's NRL line-up.
While sidelined, Jahrome Hughes secured the No.1 jersey, with Ryan Papenhuyzen jumping Drinkwater on the pecking order.
Highly-rated by the Storm, Drinkwater, who made his NRL debut in round 25 last year, was desperate to play regular first grade.
"He heads to the Cowboys with our best wishes," Storm general manager of football Frank Ponissi said.
"While we were reluctant to release Scott, he had already signed with the Cowboys in 2020 and the opportunity was there for him to get game time in their first grade side straight away."
Drinkwater's release was one of four changes to the Storm squad announced on Monday before the June 30 signing deadline, with Tongan centre Solomone Kata and Gold Coast prop Max King signing on.
Young hooker Harry Grant was promoted to their top 30.
Kata played 93 games with the Warriors, which included 46 tries and a finals appearance in 2018.
He has played six Tests for Tonga, including the weekend's Oceania Cup match, and five for New Zealand.
King, who has played 38 games for the Titans, was initially released by Gold Coast two weeks ago before they changed their minds due to injuries.
However, they agreed to his release a second time and he will start training this week.
Melbourne also offloaded Patrick Kaufusi, the younger brother of Queensland Origin backrower Felise, to the Dragons last Friday