'Sacrificed her whole career': NRL player's beautiful tribute to wife

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Shaun and Kayla Johnson are pictured together in a photo from Instagram.
Cronulla Sharks star Shaun Johnson has paid a tearful tribute to his wife during the club's presentation night, thanking her for the sacrifices she had made to aid his NRL career. Picture: Instagram

Cronulla star and New Zealand rugby league international Shaun Johnson has made a tearful tribute to his wife Kayla Johnson (nee Cullen) during the Sharks’ presentation night.

Johnson acknowledged the sacrifices Kayla, a former Silver Ferns netballer, made to enable him to pursue his NRL dreams.

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In his acceptance speech after winning the Porter Gallen Medal, Johnson said he could ‘never repay’ Kayle for the sacrifices she had made in a tearful oration.

“She has sacrificed her whole career to come over here with me ... and honestly I can never repay you ... just for believing in me when I was copping it,” he said.

“For looking after me, for giving me the best gift in the world in our daughter and I promise you ... whatever comes next for us, I will support you in everything we do.

“I just can’t thank you enough for doing this with me, riding this journey with me.

“Thank you, babe, I love you.”

It’s been a rollercoaster year for Johnson, who battled form issues early in the season before turning things around to finish with an NRL-high 23 try assists for the season - only to rupture his achilles in the penultimate round of the season.

He and Kayla also celebrated the birth of their first child, Millah Malvina Johnson, in August.

Coaches to present NRL premiership rings

The NRL will introduce a personal touch to this year's grand final presentation with the winning coach to hand his players their premiership rings.

Ordinarily junior players fill the stage after the siren to present each player with their ring, after being congratulated by NRL officials

However the current environment has forced a change in 2020.

For the first first time since the rings were introduced after the Super League war, rings will be handed out by either Ivan Cleary or Craig Bellamy to their winning team.

It's understood the NRL had initially considered having them just given out in the sheds after the match.

However that had been met with some opposition from the clubs, prompting a late change on Thursday night.

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy will present Cameron Smith and the rest of the players with their premiership rings on Sunday night, should the Storm defeat Penrith. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)
Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy will present Cameron Smith and the rest of the players with their premiership rings on Sunday night, should the Storm defeat Penrith. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

The trophy will still be presented like usual, with the winning captain lifting it off the dais.

Dignitaries will be on stage as in previous years, but there will be no handshakes as part of the COVID-safe environment.

The NRL's prize money has also been reduced in 2020, halved from $400,000 to $200,000 as a result of the pandemic.

The lap of honour will also look a little different.

Players will be reminded to remain 1.5 metres from fans, although there will be no barriers to prevent them going closer.

Ordinarily, players are able to launch themselves into the crowd, take high fives and pose for selfies in the final act of the NRL season.

With AAP

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