Shaun Johnson is off contract and coming off the back of kicking a ridiculous, ugly, but amazing field goal for the Cronulla Sharks to defeated the Penrith Panthers.
After the game Johnson told the media “If there are any clubs out there that are after a halfback, I’m your man”
So where will Shaun Johnson end up next year and what role will he play?
Johnson will be 31 years old at the start of next season. His form in recent years has been a little up and down, and he had a devastating Achilles injury in 2020.
Clubs looking to rebuild with an eye on the future probably should look elsewhere. While Johnson may be a handy veteran to play alongside a young half who you are looking to develop, you can’t rely on him being available every week. The last thing you want is to be throwing a young half into the deep end every few weeks and playing alongside a clubs backup to Johnson.
So can Johnson be a player that could help guide a team that is “There or there abouts” around the field?
Johnson would be a handy signing for a club like the Canberra Raiders who are desperate for some playmaking in the halves. Wighton has has a poor season so far in 2021 and just isn’t a playmaker at all. A great ball runner, but a so-so kicking game and no playmaking skills what so ever. Johnson might be able to give the Canberra Raiders what they need in the halves. He is also at the right place in his career, the Raiders are looking to win now and Johnson is ready to go.
Whether the club could convince him to move to Canberra is another thing all together…
The St George/Illawarra Dragons have been happy to recruit older players since Anthony Griffin took over and they could be looking for another playmaker if they decide to show Corey Norman the door at seasons end. Johnson alongside Ben Hunt would be a pretty handy halves pairing, there is a lot of experience there. Behind a decent forward pack, they might be able to push the Dragons to a different level. Not quite a true contender, but a pretty good side.
Could we see Johnson at the Manly Sea Eagles is Kieran Foran looks to move on or retire at season end? I’d suggest Johnson is an upgrade over Foran and way less of an injury concern.
Going back to the New Zealand Warriors seems completely off the table.
What if a club looks to have Shaun Johnson in a similar role to Benji Marshall and how the South Sydney Rabbitohs use him as a backup playmaker and a spark off the bench?
I don’t think Johnson is the type of player like Marshall who could come in and make an instant impact the way Marshall can, but if Johnson was your backup half, he is a top of the line one!
Would Johnson take less money to join the Melbourne Storm? The chance to possibly win a Premiership at the Storm as part of their squad, stepping in at Origin time and trying to play the utility role off the bench, that might appeal to Johnson and to the Storm, depending on who is coaching them next year.
The Sydney Roosters are pretty well served for halves depth and the Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers seem like they are happy with their halves situations, but Johnson can make a difference elsewhere.
What do I think is Shaun Johnson’s most likely move?
I think Super League looks good for him.
He will walk into one of the top sides over there and have a shot at winning the title.