Shaun Johnson struggles prompt retirement fears for NRL veteran

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Shaun Johnson's struggles in 2022 have left fans predicting it could be the Warriors veteran's final season in the NRL. Pic: Getty
Shaun Johnson's struggles in 2022 have left fans predicting it could be the Warriors veteran's final season in the NRL. Pic: Getty

Where are all those Cronulla fans who were blowing up deluxe when the club let Shaun Johnson go and instead re-signed Matt Moylan?

We can't hear you….

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Johnson returned to the Warriors this year, promising to be the change for good.

It’s been a debacle.

The No.7 looks unmotivated, disinterested and totally lacking confidence and belief.

Hardly a game goes past where he's not putting a kick out on the full or putting a dent in the back fence with a badly timed grubber.

His defence, never a strong point, is….well, it’s still not a strong point.

A few weeks ago, playing against an 11-man Cronulla, the scene was set for Johnson to take complete control and guide his team to victory.

The old Shaun Johnson would have skewered a team down two players.

The 2022 version second guessed himself, made rookie mistakes and failed to land a single blow.

On Saturday night against Manly, he made just two runs for a total of 21 run metres and came up with duck eggs in line breaks, line break assists and try assists.

Seen here, Shaun Johnson passes the ball for the Warriors during an NRL game in 2022.
Shaun Johnson's woes with the Warriors in 2022 continued in the big round 13 defeat to the Manly Sea Eagles. Pic: Getty

It was an insipid performance in a team going through the motions.

It's sad to watch.

Johnson used to make the difficult things look easy.

He now makes the easy look difficult.

Shaun Johnson form sparks retirement concerns

His form is that bad there are predictions he may retire.

Not at the end of the year. Now

"I’ve had a thought process around Shaun for a while now. I think he’s gun-shy," former New Zealand coach Tony Kemp said on Radio SEN.

"You need your halves to go to the line and really get across that advantage line and Shaun refuses to do that.

"What’s wrong with him is that he won’t take the line on and, unless he does, the Warriors aren’t going to be in any games.

"I don’t see him seeing the year out. I think he’ll hang his boots up before the year's out."

It wasn't meant to end like this.

Johnson was painted as a cross between a saviour and a sage when it was announced he would return to the club where it all began.

"We would hope with his experience — especially on the field — he can help us in some of the tight situations we found ourselves in," coach Nathan Brown said at the time.

"A lot of times we couldn't close out games or we found ourselves in situations where we were in good positions, but we let ourselves down.

"With where Shaun is now, he plays with much better control and he sees the game much better now.

"I hope that experience, that game control, can help the team and help our younger players in those key positions."

None of the above.

And if Johnson doesn’t go, Brown might.

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