NRL: Melbourne Storm star Cameron Munster wary of 'most improved player' Shaun Johnson in upcoming Anzac Day clash

Melbourne Storm star Cameron Munster recognises NZ Warriors are a different beast in 2023, and he has one very clear idea why.

On Tuesday, Munster's Storm face the Warriors in their annual Anzac Day clash - a fixture his side have dominated for the past six years, including a 70-10 evisceration last year that set a record for the club's worst defeat.

In fact, you have to go back to 2015 for the last time the Warriors beat the perennial title contenders, with 13 straight losses since - their worst record against any side.

But this year, the third-placed Warriors enter the occasion in superior form, sitting four spots above the Storm, who dropped to seventh with their loss to Manly Sea Eagles last weekend.

When asked what he believed was the reason behind the Warriors' dramatic form reversal, Munster quickly identified Johnson as the key catalyst.

"I think Shaun Johnson's probably the most improved player over the past year," Munster told the Storm website.

"He's had a lot of pressure on him, a lot of speculation about him. But he's gone out there and played the style of footy that he wants to play and it's good to see."

Warriors players celebrate a try.
Warriors players celebrate a try. Photo credit: Photosport

Johnson's rejuvenation has almost been as pointed as the team's itself, steering his side around the ground and threatening the line as if it were 2014, while playing arguably the best defence of his career.

Australia and Queensland representative Munster says new coach Andrew Webster's influence in simplifying the Warriors' approach to the game has enabled Johnson to flourish, with a renewed focus on playing simple, mistake-free rugby league paying dividends for both the half and the club.

"He's playing with a lot of confidence, and when there's a confident Shaun Johnson, he's a very dangerous player," notes Munster.

"He's got the ability and talent all across the park, and the attributes some people wish they had. He's just showcasing them a bit more consistently at the moment and the team are reaping the benefits as well

"He's a class player when he gets it right and he's doing that at the moment."

With Nick Meaney recovered from concussion systems, Munster will shift from fullback to his preferred position in the halves for the Storm's showdown with the Warriors, where he'll be in a head-to-head contest with Johnson.

The 28-year-old has been impressed with what he's seen from the Warriors this season, particularly in their attention to nailing the basics and playing high-energy defence.

"They're playing some simple footy and respecting the ball," he observed. "They're just doing the little things better than most teams at the moment.

"The first six rounds, the teams that hold the ball the most and  tackles the hardest are usually winning games and they're showing that at the moment."

The Warriors have won five of their past seven games, coming into next week's match off the back of a gritty win over North Queensland Cowboys at home.

Meanwhile the Storm have been uncharacteristically inaccurate, with their form fluctuating from week to week in a manner rarely seen from Craig Bellamy's typically fine-tuned machine.

They'll be looking to make amends for last weekend's loss to the Sea Eagles on an occasion that often brings the best out of them.

"It's an emotional time," Munster said of the Anzac Day encounter. "There's going to be a lot of pressure and a lot of passion, that's for sure.

"As a group collectively, we're just inconsistent. Some weeks we're really good in defense and our discipline is really on. The next week our attack is not on.

"If we can get the balance of all that sorted, we'll be okay."

Join Newshub at 9pm Tuesday for live updates of the Warriors v Storm Anzac Day clash or catch live coverage on Three