NRL: Coach Andrew Webster plays down Shaun Johnson injury as Warriors try to rediscover self-belief

NZ Warriors head coach Andrew Webster has played down the severity of Shaun Johnson's latest injury, suffered during their 38-18 pasting by Sydney Roosters.

During the first half, Johnson had his pectoral muscle hyperextended in a 'chicken wing' tackle by Roosters half Luke Keary, which left him in clear discomfort.

He played through the pain, before departing with 14 minutes left, and with the contest well and truly in the bag for the Roosters, whose first-quarter blitz left the Warriors shellshocked.

Coach Andrew Webster.`
Coach Andrew Webster.` Photo credit: Photosport

Webster is confident his halfback hasn't suffered a torn muscle, but couldn't offer any assurance on his status for next weekend's clash with Penrith Panthers.

"If there was going to be an issue there or going to end with a ruptured pec, I wouldn't have had him stay on the field," he said. "I don't know if he's good for next week.

"He battled on at halftime. It was a tough conversation.

"He said, 'I want to go and fight here', and I'm really proud of him, the way he wanted to do that, but as a result of where he's at next week or anything like that, or how long if he's out at all, I don't know yet.

"He's very sore at the moment. It started hurting him when he was passing the footy and things like that."

Adding Johnson to their growing list of key injury absences would be a serious way to rub salt into a gaping wound, particularly after the loss of strike weapon Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to a hamstring tear just a couple of days earlier.

Off contract at the end of the season, Johnson, 33, is currently in contract negotiations with the club and any major injury would add a significant obstacle to those. The Warriors will need much more than a healthy Johnson to arrest their recent skid.

After five matches without a win, the 14th-placed team are currently in freefall and are already slipping well off the pace in terms of a playoffs spot.

Webster concedes the players' lack of self-belief is becoming a growing obstacle.

"We're lacking confidence," Webster said. "I'm not going to gloss over it, it starts with me.

"I've got to find a way to get these boys confident and believe in how good they can be, because when something went bad there early, it took a while for us to really put our feet in the ground and stop it.

"It was a juggernaut coming at us and we [should be] good enough to stop it, add resistance and turn them away."

The road ahead doesn't get any easier for the Auckland-based club, who'll head to Brisbane for the 'Magic Round' to try and reverse their fortunes against the three-time defending champions.

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