Rugby league: Shaun Johnson with 'nothing to prove' following Warriors exit

Unwanted by the Warriors, Shaun Johnson isn't out to prove anything to his former club or critics when the 2019 NRL season begins.

The halfback signed a three-year deal with the Cronulla Sharks on Saturday, after being deemed surplus to requirements by the Warriors last month.

The Auckland club's management felt the 28-year-old wasn't providing value for money, given his hefty million-dollar-a-season price tag, so allowed Johnson to test the market elsewhere.

Club chief executive Cameron George subtly questioned Johnson's commitment to the Warriors after his departure, but the former Golden Boot winner wasn't prepared to fire back.

"They can say what they want," Johnson said on Thursday. "I think both parties are happy with how it's ended and I've got nothing bad to say about the club. 

"I had eight years there, where I got to live out a dream that I had ever since I was a kid.

"They're a club that want to do well. They're a club that are trying to win a premiership.

"If they don't see me as being worthy of whatever they offered to pay me in the first place, then that's up to them and that's fine.

"I'm here to play footy and I want to win a comp too, and that's why I've come here. I believe this club can win another comp and I want to be a part of it."

Despite his inconsistencies, Johnson brings quite the resume to the Sutherland Shire, after piloting the Warriors to the 2011 Grand Final and the Kiwis to Four Nations glory, before scoring the 2014 World Player of the Year title.

But for the dynamic number seven, a premiership ring would top them all.

"I think that would be the most important thing to any player playing in this game," Johnson said. "I'm no different. 

"I just went down and saw how hard the boys are working, and that's why you do it.

"There's 15 teams out there with the exact same goal. They're not running around the field for any other reason than to hold that trophy up at the end of the year.

"It doesn't matter what they're paying me, I know I can add value. I've got no point to prove."

The face of the Warriors for almost a decade, Johnson is still coming to terms with how quickly his life has changed over the past fortnight and admits facing his former teammates for the first time in Round 19 next year in Wellington will be be surreal.

"A lot of people expect me to give the answer that, 'oh, it'll be fine'," he said. "But, no, it's going to be weird as.

"I've got some good mates there, some boys I've seen develop into full-blooded first graders that you're around every day for a long time.

"So it's going to be really weird, but at the same time, I know they're going to be feeling the same.

"They'll be getting stuck into me and I'll be giving as much back."

But Johnson is excited about his move to the New South Wales beach city. A club that has been a constant on the premiership race for the last five-years, Cronulla won its maiden NRL title in 2016 and sees the Kiwi as a key part on repeating that success.

Rubbing shoulders with Australian superstars like Josh Dugan, Paul Gallen, Wade Graham and Andrew Fifita presents a surreal moment for Johnson.

"It's pretty weird, just walking around the club and seeing a guy like Josh Dugan, and thinking that he is my teammate now.

"Got a ride in with Andrew Fifita this morning, that was a bit weird. This is life - people move jobs all the time

"I had a great chat with Wade [Graham] before I signed and he said they would love to have me here, but if not, he wished me all the best. It doesn't sound like much, but as a player coming into a new environment, it's good to know the players want you there."

Johnson will head back to New Zealand for Christmas, before joining the Sharks fulltime early in the new year.


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