Written by Joshua Dean
Kiwi superstar Shaun Johnson is back with the New Zealand Warriors after signing a two-year deal at his hometown club. This is a very interesting story. In 2018, he was told by the club he was not needed and was asked to move on. Now, only a few years later, the Warriors management has rectified the mistake and bought hometown hero Johnson back.
This is a great move, not only for the Warriors, but for New Zealand rugby league. The nation needs a superstar to support and Shaun Johnson fits the bill. Losing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck meant that the club needed a marquee star and they have delivered via signing Johnson.
Let’s have a look at four reasons why this deal is a good signing for the Warriors.
The biggest reason why the Warriors let go of Johnson in 2018 was his consistency and game control issues. They did not think he was consistent enough week in and week out to lead a side. However, at the Sharks, Johnson has proven to be one of the best playmakers in the NRL. His inconsistencies that he had at the Warriors have almost disappeared in the Shire. Warriors fans will notice a significant difference between the Johnson that departed in 2018, compared to the new and improved one in 2022.
DIFFERENCE IN FORWARD PACKS
Johnson is a standout at the Sharks compared to the Warriors, partly due to how much better the forward packs are. When he was previously at the Warriors, he had mediocre to below average forwards to work with. Fortunately for the Warriors, their forward pack is now as good as it has ever been, with players like Addin Fonua-Blake and Ben Murdock-Masila leading the line. The difference between the Warriors forward pack in 2018 and 2021 is substantial, which is another reason why Johnson will prosper back in New Zealand.
HUNGRY AND DEDICATED
Another reason why this deal is great is because Johnson now has a major chip on his shoulder. He was effectively told by both the Warriors and the Sharks that he was not required. Johnson must be motivated to set things right at the Warriors and prove everyone wrong. Many see him as a flash in the pan every so often, however he really will be dedicated to making this Warriors side contenders. It is obvious to see this in other Kiwi Warriors players previously. They all make first grade and that is the pinnacle for them, they do not work to become stars, they are content with just playing first grade. Coming back to the Warriors, it is without a doubt Johnson will be heavily motivated to prove the haters wrong.
THE WARRIORS ATTACK
The Warriors attack has become stale in the past few seasons. They have not scored over 450 points in a season since 2018, which of course is not a coincidence. When Johnson was at the helm, the side achieved this almost every season, whereas they have not in three seasons now. Even with the new fast paced game, the Warriors have struggled In attack. These new rules however really suit Johnson’s game, as well as Reece Walsh’s.
Many Warriors fans will be excited about this move, whilst others not so. At the end of the day, this whole signing comes down to if Johnson can stay healthy. The Warriors faithful at Mount Smart will be welcoming of him, because he is one of their own, a homegrown Warrior who will do anything to win the club their first premiership.