NRL 2019: Shaun Johnson targets postseason run with Cronulla Sharks

Cronulla Sharks halfback Shaun Johnson hopes for more NRL playoff success with his new club than his few-and-far-between post-season appearances with the NZ Warriors.

The 29-year-old is preparing for his third NRL playoff series in a nine-year career - after previous appearances in 2011 and 2018 - with an elimination final scheduled against the Manly Sea Eagles on Saturday. 

In his 2011 debut year, he helped the Warriors reach the Grand Final, which was followed by years of disappointment, before the Auckland-based side finished eighth last year, only to be bundled out by the Penrith Panthers in the first week of playoffs. 

The Sharks have a history of contending for the title, finishing inside the top eight every year since 2015 and winning the championship the following year. 

"When you sign on with a team like the Sharks, you have that expectation that you're going to make the finals," said Johnson. "The fact we achieved that is great.

"I've had some years at the Warriors where we weren't able to make the finals, but we did last year and to back that up this year, personally, I'm just hoping we can go deeper.

Shaun Johnson's 17th NRL appearance came in the 2011 Grand Final.
Shaun Johnson's 17th NRL appearance came in the 2011 Grand Final. Photo credit: Photosport

"I'm looking forward to this week and it is only going to get more exciting, if we can continue to go deep, which for an old boy is quite cool."  

Johnson, who has played 179 NRL games, admits it's hard not to reminisce on all the years where the Warriors missed out on the top eight. 

"It's weird. When you look back on your career, you think of the times that you've missed and made the finals.

"All those bad times, all the good times... you get to these points and you can really appreciate it more than anything.

"When I came through in 2011, it just happened so quick... man, so quick. Now that you're in this position again, you just don't want to waste it."

Johnson also has some advice for the five Sharks players - including Kiwis teammate Briton Nikroa - who will play in their first playoff match at Lottoland. 

"You can say all you want to some of the young boys, but it's just in one ear and out the other," Johnson admitted. "They're just going to ride it as hard as they can.

"And I say that because I remember [former Warriors teammate] Lance Hohaia telling me in 2011, 'Shauny, it goes quick'.

"He was playing in a Grand Final in his last year and the only other time he made the Grand Final was his first year in 2002, so it was 10 years for him.

"I remember him telling me that and I was like, 'Yeah bro, yeah bro, sweet'.

"I'm just going to let them enjoy it, let them roll in it. It's exciting, we need that excitement.

"We need that buzz back for some of the boys that have maybe experienced different things throughout their career." 

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