NRL 2021: NZ Warriors getting 'ultimate professional' in Shaun Johnson, says Chad Townsend

NZ Warriors are getting "the ultimate professional" in Shaun Johnson, according to former teammate Chad Townsend.

Johnson, 30, will return to the Warriors in 2022, signing a two-year deal to link with the Auckland side for a second stint, after coming through the club's junior ranks.

After playing with Johnson with both the Warriors and Cronulla Sharks, Townsend is perfectly placed to watch his now former halves partner's development. 

And despite the fact the two will swap places at the end of the season - when Townsend moves to North Queensland Cowboys - he is sure Johnson returns to Mt Smart as a better player.

"Just the maturity he's shown over the last three years," Townsend says of Johnson.

"He's had to move out of his comfort zone, to a new club, learn a little bit of a new culture. The Warriors are getting the ultimate professional.

"I've seen Shaun, the work he's put in day in, day out... he's got nothing but love for the New Zealand Warriors.

"When he told me that it was all done, I was super happy for him.

"I think the club gets a big professional, but also a great player."

Townsend isn't alone as a Warriors mid-season recruit, joined by former Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. 

As for his own return to the Warriors, turning out for his former side for the first time since 2015, Townsend says that he had no hesitation leaving the Sharks.

"For me, it was a pretty easy decision," Townsend adds.

"I know this club, I've played for the club before, I've got the jersey hanging up in my house, so I've got an emotional connection with this club [and] I'm very happy to be here.

"I just want to take the challenge head-on and do the best I can."

Despite the Warriors currently sitting 11th on the NRL ladder and being winless in their last three matches, Townsend also believes the Kiwi side have what it takes to crack the top-eight playoff teams.

"We've got a chance to do something special this year and sneak into the eight.

"If we're good enough, we'll be there. That's going to be up to ourselves and our destiny is in our hands.

"It's an exciting opportunity and I'm really looking forward to it."

Join Newshub for live updates of the Warriors v Dragons clash from 8pm Friday.