John­son bears War­riors no grudges but at Cronulla to win comp

The New Zealand Herald - - Super Sport - David Skip­with

Former War­riors star and new Sharks sign­ing Shaun John­son says he bears no grudges against his old club and de­clared he made the move to Cronulla to win an NRL premier­ship.

Fronting Syd­ney me­dia for the first time since join­ing Cronulla, John­son ad­mits he took a pay cut to join the Sharks on a three-year deal, and said if he wanted to earn more money he would have re­mained at the War­riors.

The 28-year-old Kiwi in­ter­na­tional joined his new team­mates and Cronulla coach Shane Flana­gan at South­ern Cross Group Sta­dium at train­ing yes­ter­day, after be­ing granted a re­lease last week from the fi­nal year of his $1 mil­lion per sea­son con­tract with the War­riors.

De­spite the ac­ri­mo­nious man­ner in which he left New Zealand, John­son re­fused to bad mouth the Auck­land-based NRL out­fit, and said money was never a fac­tor in his de­ci­sion to part ways with the club he de­buted for back in 2011.

“They’re a club that want to do well,” said John­son as he faced the me­dia in Sharks colours.

“They’re a club that’s look­ing to win a premier­ship and if they don’t see me as wor­thy of what they were pay­ing me that’s fine.

“Peo­ple will say you’re only worth X amount but at the end of the day it’s ir­rel­e­vant. We were all play­ing

If it was all about the money, I would have stayed there. I would have stayed and played my con­tract out. I’m here to win a premier­ship. Shaun John­son

footy long be­fore we got paid for it,” he said.

“If it was all about the money, I would have stayed there. I would have stayed and played my con­tract out. I’m here to win a premier­ship,” John­son said.

“I know I can add value. I be­lieve in my­self, it doesn’t mat­ter what they’re pay­ing me.”

After mak­ing a grand fi­nal ap­pear­ance in his rookie sea­son in 2011, John­son and the War­riors failed to fea­ture in the play­offs for six long years be­fore they fi­nally scraped into the top eight this sea­son.

Their fi­nals cam­paign was fleet­ing how­ever, with the mer­cu­rial play­maker com­ing un­der fire for fail­ing to de­liver in the War­riors’ week one qual­i­fy­ing fi­nal de­feat to Pen­rith in Syd­ney in Septem­ber.

The lure of join­ing a con­sis­tent top four team was a big fac­tor in him join­ing the 2016 pre­miers, and John­son is ex­cited about the Sharks ti­tle prospects in 2019.

“I think that would be the most im­por­tant thing to any player play­ing this game. That’s why you do it,” he said.

“There are 15 teams out there with the ex­act same goal. That’s all of our mind­set and that’s why I be­lieve this is the great­est comp in the world,” John­son said. Flana­gan is ex­pected to play John­son at five-eighth next sea­son.

Hav­ing owned the No 7 jersey in eight sea­sons at the War­riors, John­son is set to move one spot wider and play five-eighth for the Sharks.

He will turn out along­side half­back and former War­riors halves part­ner Chad Townsend.

John­son’s le­gion of sup­port­ers can ex­pect to get their first glimpse of him in Sharks colours dur­ing their pre­sea­son tri­als against the Manly Sea Ea­gles in Syd­ney on Fe­bru­ary 23, and the New­cas­tle Knights at Mait­land in the Hunter re­gion on March 2.

The Sharks then open their 2019 NRL cam­paign with a Fri­day night away clash against the Knights at Mc­Don­ald Jones Sta­dium in New­cas­tle on March 15.

Photo / Getty Im­ages

A re­laxed Shaun John­son fronts the cam­eras at Cronulla yes­ter­day.

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