Behind the Sports Desk: Was dumping Johnson the right move?

BEHIND THE SPORTS DESK: Was dumping Johnson the right move?

RUGBY LEAGUE: The off-season player roster re-shuffling has continued, with one of the biggest names in New Zealand rugby league shown the door.

The New Zealand Warriors told Shaun Johnson months ago he was free to explore his options, and just this week the Kiwi international and Golden Boot winner decided to head across the ditch and join 2016 premiers Cronulla Sharks.

Was it the right call by the Warriors to let go of their halfback?

JARRARD POTTER: NZ silly to lose Johnson

THE decision of the New Zealand Warriors to cut ties with their star halfback Shaun Johnson took me by surprise, and I believe it was the wrong decision for the Warriors to make at this stage.

He is a Kiwi international, a Golden Boot winner who on his day is electric on his feet, possess a crisp passing game and an accurate boot that can help turn a game on a dime.

I know Johnson has been panned in the past over his work ethic and willingness to do the hard yards in a game, but it's also an accusation that would be targeted towards nearly everyone at the Warriors, as in the past few seasons they've not managed to consistently be able to play quality football for the full 80 minutes.

Good things have been happening at the New Zealand Warriors, but the decision to move Johnson on could potentially derail that progress, as a new half has to take the reigns of the team and go from the ground up.

As a halfback Johnson is just hitting the point in his career where he is on top of his game.

While the Warriors have been disappointing for a while now, to pin it all on Shaun Johnson is unfair and not an accurate reflection of the talent the man posses, which the Warriors are now without.

BILL NORTH: Warriors need to plan ahead

THE New Zealand Warriors need a fresh start and the fastest way to achieving that is to part ways with their chief playmaker.

As long as Shaun Johnson is in the setup, the Warriors cannot reinvent themselves, and as long as he stayed would have been bound to build their game plans around his influence.

Although the Warriors showed signs of improvement in 2018 and scraped into the finals for the first time since reaching the 2011 grand final, the club's long-term future could no longer be centred around Johnson who, at 28, is now approaching the latter stages of his career.

That being said, fellow half Blake Green at 32 is hardly the long-term answer for the Warriors either. They will need two new faces to direct the next generation around the park.

For Johnson, however, giving up his status as a one-club player could be the blessing in disguise that leads to the most successful chapter of his career.

The move to the Sharks appears a match made in heaven - he will provide the much-needed enigmatic spark to complement Chad Townsend in the halves, with Matt Moylan perhaps more suited to stepping into the fullback role vacated by Valentine Holmes.

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