The Warriors have been dealt an almighty blow with halfback Shaun Johnson ruled out of the Penrith Panthers clash this Saturday in the NRL finals after suffering an injury in training. The Warriors will play minor premiers the Panthers this weekend in a huge Saturday evening showdown to see who will advance to the preliminary final.
However, in brutal news for the resurgent Warriors, star player and halfback Johnson went down in training with a leg injury. Last week Johnson was rested in the club's round 27 match to be fit for the finals.
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The halfback was named to face Penrith in a mouthwatering clash against two-time premiership winner Nathan Cleary. But a training mishap means Johnson has been ruled out of Saturday's clash with the reigning champions.
With first-choice five-eighth Luke Metcalf already sidelined with a hamstring issue, the news will be tough for coach Andrew Webster. Johnson was one of a number of star Warriors rested for the final-round loss to the Dolphins with the club already having sewn up a top-four spot.
The mercurial playmaker has been in career-best form this year and is a strong contender to take out the Dally M Medal. Fans were left stunned at the news ahead of the Warriors biggest clash this year.
Kinda heartbroken for Shaun Johnson. After playing so well all year and being one of the biggest reason the warriors are in the position they’re in, he deserves to play the finals
— 𝒥𝒥 (@AcousticAri) September 7, 2023
In the past 30 minutes, it's gone from Shaun Johnson is playing, to in doubt, to some doubt, to serious doubt.#UpTheWahs
— Mungo!! (@KFCQuarterPack) September 7, 2023
Terrible news for the Warriors. Shaun Johnson has indeed picked up an injury during training this week. In doubt for Saturday's game, the team won't know until tomorrow.
— Sam Hewat (@samhewat) September 7, 2023
Coach tries to quell 'terrible' Shaun Johnson update
Johnson is said to have undergone limited training this week and Webster batted away questions on Wednesday around his halfback's fitness when reporters in Auckland noticed him not partaking in a warm-up session. "That's happened several times this year," Webster told reporters on Wednesday. "We do extended warm-ups so Shaun warmed up on field No.1 today (Wednesday).
"We go straight into collisions and contact and we just manage that and time it better. I knew I was going to get asked that. I don't care if I get asked that because it's literally happened so many times." While Webster tried to quell the drama, Johnson was ruled out after 5pm on Thursday.
"We've got players who can step in. We've done it all year, we've filled a role, and that's why we're here," Johnson said after the Warriors touched down in Sydney on Thursday. "I just think our team has never been about one person. It's no different now. We'll be right."
The Warriors are hoping Johnson will be fit for "their next game", but the No.7 gave his teammates an extra bit of motivation to beat the Panthers without him. "Hopefully we don't have to play next week," Johnson quipped.
The winner of the Panthers and Warriors will get a week off and advance straight to the preliminary finals. The loser will face the winner of the Knights and Raiders.
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