NRL: Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck eye NZ Warriors return from injury against Melbourne Storm

NZ Warriors stars Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck are among the names missing from this week's NRL encounter against North Queensland Cowboys, but both seem on track to return from injury next week.

After having to dive deep into his reserves for gritty wins against Penrith Panthers and the Dolphin, followed by a bye week, coach Andrew Webster has been able to call on most of his frontliners sidelined by injury or suspension, as they try to make a mid-season playoff run.

Notable among the remaining absentees are Johnson, who strained a shoulder against Sydney Roosters last month, and Tuivasa-Sheck, who was a late scratching from that game with a hamstring tweak. 

Warriors stars Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Warriors stars Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. Photo credit: Photosport

Back-to-back wins have probably eased some of the pressure to hurry the pair back into action, with Webster preferring to make sure they're healthy first.

"We're expecting next week, but we just want to be sure he's definitely right," he said of Johnson, 33. "At this stage, it looks like next week... we'll play that by ear, week by week.

"He's got through a fair bit of training, particularly today. He trained well, he trained against our team for this week and gave them some headaches, which was cool.

"It's not about re-injuring, it's more about reps he needs to play well, rather than just getting through the game. I've got no worries about him getting through the game, because he's played so tough all year, but it's about getting reps with the boys and getting him back with some confidence." 

While Johnson should step straight back into his half position, Tuivasa-Sheck, 31, may need to unseat replacement Adam Pompey at centre. Pompey played all but a few minutes of the Warriors' breakout 2023 campaign, but has had to bide his time behind his more illustrious teammate this year.

"He's going good," said Webster of Tuivasa-Sheck. "He trained with the group today and he's a chance of being back next week.

"With all due respect, I haven't thought about it too much. I just get the updates that Roger's getting close and he's training today, then we throw him into different positions.

"He was in the opposition today, so he got plenty of good practice."

Fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, centre Rocco Berry, captain Tohu Harris, second-rower Kurt Capewell, prop Addin Fonua-Blake and hooker Wayde Egan are all back in the line-up against the Cowboys, but Webster spares a thought for those that have missed out, after carrying the team in their absence.

"I'm excited to have them because they're good players, but the guys that have been there the last couple of weeks deserve a lot of praise too.

Taine Tuaupiki scores a try against Penrith.
Taine Tuaupiki scores a try against Penrith. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I'm really excited that we just got more people available for selection. We've named our squad, but the guys that deserve to be there will be there on the weekend.

"There are some genuine first-graders that need to come straight back in and there are guys that will keep their spots, which is cool."

One of those seemingly unlucky is back-up fullback Taine Tuaupiki, who proved a gamewinner against Penrith, when Nicoll-Klokstad was moved to five-eighth, but was called away for the birth of his first child before he could face the Dolphins.

Webster has returned Nicoll-Klokstad to his rightful position and kept Chanel Harris-Tavita in No.6, retaining a right-left kicking combination with half Te Maire Martin, with Tuaupiki on the extended bench.

Join Newshub at 7:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Warriors v Cowboys NRL clash