NRL 2021: NZ Kiwis star Shaun Johnson teases Japanese rugby union switch

Former NZ Warriors half Shaun Johnson has considered switching to rugby union in Japan, when he comes off contract with Cronulla Sharks at the end of the season.

Johnson, 30, will make his 200th NRL appearance on Sunday, named to start at halfback for the Sharks against Gold Coast Titans, but has no assurances over his future.

Despite the merry-go-round of halves in the NRL, Johnson doesn't have a contract for 2022.

But the 32-test Kiwis half has reportedly met with former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, now on the Sydney Roosters staff, fuelling speculation over his future in the 13-man code.

Asked about his next move, Johnson admits a switch to rugby is a consideration, but only if it came in Japan.

But Johnson also concedes he would only make a rugby switch, if an opportunity to stay in rugby league doesn’t materialise.

"It's not heading back to New Zealand to play rugby or anything like that," Johnson says.

"It would only be to head to Japan, if that opportunity came up, but that was just a bit of an interest of a conversation.

"It was never anything like, 'Yep, let's lock it in'. It was just talking to the right people to see if it was a possibility, how that could look.

"It's really nothing to blow up. You're looking for a job, you get as much information as you can about what's out there - it's no different for us."

Cronulla have already lost halfback Chad Townsend for the 2022 season, as he heads to North Queensland Cowboys, but the Sharks appear in no rush to re-sign Johnson, with other halves like Brisbane Broncos' Anthony Milford also on the market.

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