New Zealand Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson feels reinvigorated after returning to his home club ahead of the 2022 season.
Johnson, 31, is perhaps the best player in Warriors’ history, having played 162 games for the club before switching over to Cronulla for the last three seasons.
With a two-year deal inked to re-join the club last June, the 2014 Golden Boot winner explained that the Warriors’ young core was a key reason in helping convince him that a return was the right move.
“It (the club’s young roster) is obviously a reason why i came back, I wanted to be a part of it,” Johnson told Stephen McIvor on SENZ Mornings.
“There’s just so many things … you know that excite me, when the opportunity came back for me to return, I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to be able to mix and mingle with these kids who are going to go on to be something special’.
“The roster, the youth, between you and me, I don’t know if you know, but I’m the oldest in the squad. Think about that, it blows my mind.
“Do I think I can offer something to these kid? I do, I really do, that was a part of me wanting to come back.
“I want to pass on some experience … from the journey and the pressure I’ve felt to maybe what some of these boys are going to go through in the near future.
“It’s really refreshing, a lot of them share stories of memories they have of me playing over the years, we joke about it and we laugh about it.
“It’s quite surreal for me to hear … one of them was seven years old when I was playing in the Grand Final … where does that time go?”
Johnson’s return to the club has been an eye-opening one, with the halfback impressed with how far the club has come in terms of professionalism in the pre-season.
“Being back at the Warriors now, the attitude and the professionalism around training (is great),” Johnson said.
“The coaching staff, everything ticks boxes for me.
“There’s not one area where i’m thinking they’re leaving stones unturned here … we’re training at a high level.
“As far as pre-seasons go, I won’t say it’s better than what the Sharks were doing, but I definitely won’t say it’s worse.
“I think we’re certainly on the right track here.”
Ultimately, Johnson’s move came down to where he felt he’d be most satisfied, and he believes that the Warriors is the right club to help him reconnect with his family.
“I’m definitely happy, and I want to be happy,” Johnson said.
“In the current climate, it made it difficult for me from a family sense, not being able to see my girls and having to watch my daughter grow up on FaceTime.
“To me the picture isn’t complete, but i’m one to roll with the punches, and make the best out of every situation.
“I’m fortunate to be back at the club and working with some really good people.”
Johnson will be hoping to steer the Warriors to an improved finish in 2022 after the club ended last season in 12th position with just eight wins from 24 games.
Listen to the full chat here.