He may only be 22 years old but Shaun Johnson already carries the hopes of an entire fan base, with New Zealand Warriors fans looking for their young play maker to step up his game in 2013 and lead the club back to the NRL Finals.
Johnson is one of my favorite players to watch. He reminds me a lot of Benji Marshall with his incredible footwork and his ability to explode through a gap he creates with that footwork. It is not coincidence both players come from a Touch Football background and he is a very good example of why I think Rugby League should actively fund Touch Football competitions and expand it as another pathway into the full version of Rugby League.
Johnson added a spark to the Warriors as they made a great run towards and NRL Grand Final appearance in 2011 and people expected huge things for him and the club in 2012. Unfortunately 2012 would turn out to be a season of disappointment for the club. As the Warriors season started to fall apart, Johnson was one of many players in the side who didn’t end up performing to expectation.
Now we head into 2013, and there have been a lot of big changes at the Warriors. With those changes comes more pressure on Johnson to perform. How he handles that pressure will be key to the Warriors entire season. Like all young players, Johnson’s game is still developing, and for all of his athletic brilliance, he still have to learn how to guide the team around the park, how to lead as a halfback and how he is able to dictate the way the game is played. He has all the tools he needs, it is just a matter of getting the experience to know when to apply himself at those key moments in a match.
I have no doubt that it won’t be too long before we all consider Johnson to be the best New Zealander playing in the game. I decided to put forward the best case for this young bloke. Here are some amazing highlights of Shaun Johnson from the 2011 and 2012 NRL seasons:
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