John­son hits out: Stephen Kear­ney didn’t like me

The Timaru Herald - - $ -

Shaun John­son has opened up on his de­par­ture from the War­riors, claim­ing coach Stephen Kear­ney did not like him.

John­son is now em­bed­ded at the Cronulla Sharks af­ter a fall­out with War­riors man­age­ment re­sulted in him be­ing granted an im­me­di­ate re­lease last week, with a year re­main­ing on his con­tract.

‘‘I prob­a­bly could have stayed one year, but how en­gaged and how much con­tri­bu­tion I was able to give af­ter hear­ing what had been said and know­ing how the War­riors felt about me, that was the bit that made me go,’’ he told the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald.

‘I don’t want to waste a year be­cause we don’t have too long in this game’,’’ John­son said.

The War­riors have had their say on the sit­u­a­tion, chief ex­ec­u­tive Cameron Ge­orge declar­ing in a scathing press re­lease the club is ‘‘not go­ing to com­pro­mise our cul­ture on and off the field with peo­ple who do not wish to rep­re­sent our club, mem­bers and fans in the way we ex­pect’’.

That they would part with the Ki­wis No 7 be­fore they had even se­cured an ad­e­quate re­place­ment – although Stuff can re­veal they have made in­quiries about Gold Coast young gun AJ Brim­son – shows how ugly things had be­come.

‘‘I know deep down that I gave it a crack,’’ John­son said. ‘‘Re­gard­less of what the CEO says, who has been there a year or two, it dates back a lot longer than me.

‘‘I’ve been there eight years and had six coaches. So the sixth coach didn’t like me. So what? You know what I mean? I rode the tough time, I gave it a crack. I tried to keep fans en­gaged in their seats, I tried to play a style of footy that was go­ing to get kids ex­cited every week.

‘‘I know that, my fam­ily knows that and the peo­ple who know me know that, which is why I can say no, it doesn’t re­ally af­fect me.’’

Kear­ney wasn’t avail­able com­ment. for Mark Ru­dan will look to add more than just an­other im­port to bol­ster his squad in Jan­uary.

With Fi­jian striker Roy Kr­ishna gain­ing New Zealand ci­ti­zen­ship on Thurs­day, the Welling­ton Phoenix coach can add an­other over­seas player to his squad when the trans­fer win­dow opens on Jan­uary 3.

His squad sits at the min­i­mum of 20, so he has three spa­ces he could fill in Jan­uary. He said he plans to tar­get Ki­wis for those two other spots.

‘‘At the same time that we’re look­ing for a visa player be­cause we’ve got that spot, I haven’t dis­counted, and have been watch­ing, the lo­cal premier­ship as well.

‘‘There are some play­ers there that I’ve been mak­ing a list of who I’d like to bring in in Jan­uary, if they want to come in. I’ll be speak­ing to a few of them.

‘‘So it’s not just about an over­seas player. I’ve been quite im­pressed with some of the lo­cal ta­lent. But the A-League is a dif­fer­ent beast and a dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment as well, but they’ll be get­ting a phone call some­time soon.‘‘

In terms of an im­port, Ru­dan would not di­vulge which po­si­tion of the field they are tar­get­ing, but one would imag­ine the pri­or­ity would be a goalscorer, given they have scored the fewest goals in the league with four in six matches.

His phone had been run­ning hot since Kr­ishna’s ci­ti­zen­ship was an­nounced.

‘‘Since Roy’s news, even more so now, which is great,’’ he said of in­ter­est from agents and other clubs.

The process now would be to go back to their data­base of trans­fer tar­gets and start work­ing their way through that list.

‘‘We’ve been keep­ing tabs on those play­ers in terms of how they’re play­ing week-in, week-out.

‘‘We’ve got a list there al­ready and then through the con­tacts we made we go out to them and say these are the kind of play­ers we’re look­ing for.

‘‘The process has started and we’re get­ting feed­back in re­gards to that. It’s got to be the right player, the right fit for us and some­one that’s ready to play, more im­por­tantly.’’

The Phoenix still have four more games to nav­i­gate be­fore the trans­fer win­dow opens, start­ing with an away trip to play Syd­ney FC to­day.

They have called in 43-year-old goal­keeper Ante Covic as in­jury cover for Filip Kurto, who is out with con­cus­sion. Covic will back up Oliver Sail, who is 21 years his ju­nior.

Phoenix skip­per An­drew Du­rante knows Covic well, hav­ing won an A-League ti­tle with him at New­cas­tle Jets in 2008.

‘‘He’ll come in to help Oli out,’’ Du­rante said.

‘‘Oli is young, so hav­ing an ex­pe­ri­enced head next to him in the warmups and be­fore the game is go­ing to be in­valu­able for him.’’

Ru­dan said Kurto had passed every con­cus­sion test this week, but they had taken a safety-first ap­proach and de­cided to leave him out of the squad this week­end.

Ru­dan will be without sus­pended backup de­fender Ryan Lowry, while Syd­ney FC have wel­comed back Daniel De Silva and Siem de Jong to their squad. What: A-League round seven Where and when: Ju­bilee Sta­dium, Syd­ney, to­day 7.35pm (NZ time) TAB: Syd­ney FC $1.35, Welling­ton $7.80, draw $4.80 Phoenix: Mandi, Dy­lan Fox, Mitch Ni­chols, Nathan Burns, David Wil­liams, Lib­er­ato Ca­cace, Alex Rufer, Michal Kopz­cyn­ski, Louis Fen­ton, Sarpreet Singh, Tom Doyle, Oliver Sail, Roy Kr­ishna, An­drew Du­rante (c), Max Burgess, Steven Tay­lor, Zac Jones, Ante Covic Syd­ney: An­drew Red­mayne, Aaron Calver, Alex Wilkinson, Jop van der Lin­den, Josh Bril­lante, Michael Zullo, Paulo Re­tre, Adam Le Fon­dre, Mi­los Ninkovic, Daniel De Silva, Bran­don O’Neill, Alex Brosque (c), Alex Cisak, Charles Lokoli-Ngoy, Siem de Jong, Rhyan Grant, Cam Devlin, Luke Ivanovic

Shaun John­son

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