Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Shaun Johnson is making his return to the New Zealand Warriors in 2022 after three seasons at the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks.
In his first stint at the club, Johnson led the Warriors to two finals series and a Grand Final in his rookie year of 2011.
During this time he would also make his international debut for the New Zealand national team and has gone on to represent his nation on over 30 occasions.
The big question surrounding his return doesn’t concern Johnson himself, but who his partner in the halves will be.
Over the past few seasons, the Warriors have recruited multiple halves and now have a battle for the five-eighth position on their hands.
Following a very up and down start to his career at the Gold Coast Titans, Ash Taylor has a fresh start at the Warriors after having his train and trial deal upgraded to a one-year deal.
His NRL experience will help his chances of getting a spot in the side, but he will arguably have to work harder than any other player on this list to get his opportunity.
Reports over the offseason have suggested that Chanel Harris-Tavita will leave the Warriors at the end of 2022, which may impact his chances of starting at five-eighth for the side this season.
If these reports are true then the 22-year-old will have a chip on his shoulder as he tries to earn himself an NRL contract elsewhere.
Since 2019, Kodi Nikorima has found himself playing in multiple positions for the Warriors, and his versatility could be what keeps him away from the five-eighth position this year.
While he can play in the halves, Nikorima’s ability to come on in the middle of a game as an impact player has had a positive effect on his side’s form in the past and maybe why the club keeps him out of the number six.
Reece Walsh has settled into the fullback role at the Warriors relatively well, and will seemingly be there for years to come.
However, if he were to experience a form slump at any point, a move to the halves could help him get back to his best.
After making his debut for the Raiders in 2020, Adam Cook hasn’t played in the NRL since, moving to the Warriors this offseason with the hope that he will get more chances to prove himself in first grade.
Cook is still just 21-years-old and has plenty of time to develop and earn a spot in the Warriors team.