Craig Norenbergs: They would really love you in Canberra, Shaun Johnson

Mr Shaun Johnson

C/O NZ Warriors

Mt Smart Stadium


Dear Shaun

My name is Craig and I am a rugby league fan. I am also, importantly, a die-hard supporter of the Canberra Raiders.

I went to all their games in Queanbeyan in their first year in 1982 and for years, my father and I used to walk from my Canberra home in Lyneham to Canberra Stadium (or Bruce Stadium, as it was then) to watch the Green Machine.

I've cheered the good times, I've suffered the bad times, but I've stuck with them through thick and thin.

I know you're a fan of Twitter and Instagram, but I thought I'd go 'old school' and write you an open letter.

I think you'd love playing for the Raiders. Having lived in New Zealand for four years, I can see similarities between Auckland and Canberra.

Obviously, the Australian capital is a bit smaller, but the people are nice, just like Kiwis. Let's face it, you can try to live in a big city, but if the people are cranky and always in a hurry, it's no fun.

In footballing terms, you'd love the Raiders. Coach Ricky Stuart is a genuine, passionate fella, who bleeds green.

I admire and respect him. He's a Canberra legend and as a former halfback, he could take your game to the next level.

While Stacey Jones has done a great job guiding you at the Warriors, you could really hone your all-round game with Ricky's help.

And look at who you'll have alongside you in the backs - Aidan Sezer, Jarrod Croker, Brad Abbey, Jordan Rapana, Joey Leilua, Nick Cotric and Jack Wighton.

And protecting you in the forwards - Elliott Whitehead, Sia Soliola, Joe Tapine, Josh Hodgson and Josh Papalii. Lots of your kiwi mates there.

With the right bloke at halfback, it's a team that can - and should - win a premiership. And let's face it, that's what it's all about.

You are the missing ingredient.

AND you've already shown how much you like winning at GIO Stadium. In Round Three last season, you were the matchwinner - you could do that every week, wearing Raiders green rather than Warriors white.

Canberra is relaxed place and the people are lovely. The joint has a great café culture, with excellent coffee.

You can concentrate on the footy, and spend every second week enduring the bright lights and frantic pace of Sydney or Brisbane. You can also pop home to New Zealand anytime you like.

The last person with the surname Johnson to make headlines in Canberra was former US President Lyndon B. Johnson who visited in the 1960s. I can already hear the fans chanting "All the way with SBJ"... the middle 'B' in your name standing for 'belong at the Raiders'!

I did a story for Newshub with you earlier this year. You were spending an evening with the juniors at your old club, the Hibiscus Raiders.

Wouldn’t it be great to bring your career full circle and play for the 'Raiders' again?

At the time, you laughed at my suggestion, but when you seriously look at it, you know it's your destiny.

It struck me at the time what a decent, well-presented, polite young bloke you were. You could become the face of Canberra, easily.

And you'd be loved, really loved. If you're not feeling that love at the Warriors, it's time for a change. You know it, I know it and Raiders fans everywhere know it.

Shaun Johnson - Raider. Just like when you were a kid and first fell in love with rugby league.

And there'd be a premiership ring at the end of it.

I'm always here for a chat as a caring, sharing Raiders supporter.

Your mate


Craig Norenburgs is a Newshub sports reporter - and Raiders tragic