NRL: Blake Green predicts Warriors can succeed in post-Shaun Johnson era

Standoff Blake Green is adamant the Warriors can reach the NRL finals without Shaun Johnson, but concedes it will be tough ask.

The Auckland-based club heads into the 2019 season - better known as the post-Shaun Johnson era - after releasing the halfback, who it felt wasn't worth his hefty million-dollar price tag.

Less than a week later, Johnson announced he'd signed a three-year deal with the 2016 champions Cronulla Sharks.

Shaun Johnson.
Shaun Johnson. Photo credit: Getty

The decision to cut Johnson leaves the Warriors with plenty of money in the bank, but they now have a gaping hole in their line-up, without an experienced halfback.

Chanel Harris-Tavita and Adam Keighran are two young halves on the Warriors roster, but neither have NRL experience, while centres Peta Hiku and Blake Ayshford have covered five-eighth in the past at NRL level.

Ayshford has been linked with a move to the Super League though, with the Hull Daily Mail reporting that the Warriors won't stand in his way should he want to leave.

That leaves the Warriors with more questions than answers, but that doesn't faze Green, who will take on a bigger leadership role next season.

"I think we can [reach the finals]," Green told Newshub. "That is what we're trying to achieve here - we've worked hard to change things within the club.

"Not having Shaun is a massive loss for us. There is no hiding that fact he's a special player, but we need to move on and find someone to play his role.

"We have some great young kids in the club, so hopefully, one of them can do it for us."

Even without Johnson, the bulk of the Warriors squad remains unchanged for 2019.

They lost former captain Simon Mannering to retirement, while they released James Gavet and fringe first-grader Mason Lino, who are both at the Newcastle Knights now.

The Warriors have added extra size to their pack with the addition of Kiwis international Leeson Ah Mau, plus Lachlan Burr from the Bulldogs and Keighran from the Panthers.

"I don't think things will change too much, to be honest," Green added.

"I played on the ball last year in the team and directed the team around the field, so I'll probably do the same this year.

"We're just going to have to find someone to slot in and float around the back, and come up with some big plays."