Shaun Johnson could be a target for a number of NRL clubs.
Shaun Johnson could be a target for a number of NRL clubs.

Eight landing spots for star halfback

SHAUN Johnson dropped an NRL bombshell on Tuesday when it was reported he'd asked for an immediate release from the Warriors.

While his request was reportedly denied, the possibility of the 28-year-old joining the market would be a huge coup for NRL clubs looking to take their shot at the star New Zealand representative.

On his day, Shaun Johnson is one of the best players in the competition and would add value to almost any roster - and luckily for him, there are a few clubs who would use his services - either straight away or from the end of 2019 if the Warriors were to deny his request.

England may be a valid option, but NRL fans are hoping he stays right here where we can watch him play every week.

Where could he fit in? Let's take a look.

RAIDERS

Blake Austin has already departed the club, leaving Sam Williams and Aidan Sezer to run the show in 2019. However, the Raiders could use a star signing and a player with the skill and experience of Johnson would be the perfect fit for the flamboyant team.

The Raiders never struggle to score points, but have lacked direction from their halves in previous years. Having a coach like Ricky Stuart to help perfect his game, Johnson could go to a new level and take the Raiders with him.

Stuart recently admitted he'd be interested in signing the talented playmaker.

"I think if you asked most coaches in the competition they would be pretty chuffed to coach a player of that ability," Stuart said.

One factor that could help a possible bid is the fact the club have applied for a salary cap exemption following Jordan Rapana's long-term shoulder injury.

Shaun Johnson in action.
Shaun Johnson in action.

SHARKS

Now regarded as one of the frontrunners to snare Johnson, Cronulla have plenty of cash to splash after Valentine Holmes was released to chase his NFL dream.

Before he upped and went, the Sharks were willing to make Holmes one of the highest paid players in the history of the club, so there's no doubt they've got room in the salary cap.

Holmes' departure leaves the fullback spot vacant at the Sharks, but it could be filled by Matt Moylan which then frees up playmaking position for Johnson to slot straight into.

EELS

It's been widely reported that Parramatta are shopping around halves Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses, both of whom are off-contract at the end of 2019 and free to negotiate with rivals.

If a trade deal could be struck, both clubs could walk away happy.

WESTS TIGERS

The Kiwis' recent tour of England gave Michael Maguire and Johnson plenty of time to build a tight relationship.

Current Tigers halfback Luke Brooks is also off-contract in 2019, which could open the door for a deal to be struck between the clubs. Brooks is a Wests Tigers junior, had the best season of his career in 2018 and has remained loyal to the club, so it's unlikely he would be willing to leave unless he isn't offered an extension.

Fellow half Benji Marshall appears set to retire at the end of the 2019 season, while Josh Reynolds battled a long injury layoff this year but remains on the books until 2021.

It's a feasible scenario for 2020 if they do decide to let Brooks pursue other options.

Shaun Johnson has been a mainstay in the Kiwis team.
Shaun Johnson has been a mainstay in the Kiwis team.

ROOSTERS

Whenever a star comes on the market, the Roosters are the first team mentioned. However, this theory has legs - after the 2019 season.

Cooper Cronk has one year remaining on his million-dollar deal with the premiers and Johnson would be the ideal a big-name replacement to fill his shoes. A coach like Trent Robinson could create magic with someone of Johnson's skill set.

COWBOYS

A fit and healthy Michael Morgan will be given the reins at the Cowboys again but his halves partner Te Maire Martin remains unsigned beyond the end of 2019.

The Warriors were interested in Martin before signing Blake Green last season, so a deal could be struck to make the trade.

They also have boom 20-year-old rookie Jake Clifford on the books until 2020 and appear determined to invest in his future.

Depending on how much cash is left in the salary cap, the Cowboys don't have a solid enough halves combination to rule them out as a potential destination for Johnson.

Shaun Johnson celebrates a try.
Shaun Johnson celebrates a try.

BRONCOS

Halves Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford failed to set the world alight in 2018 after the loss of Ben Hunt to the Dragons. Nikorima, although playing in the halves alongside Johnson for the Kiwis, could become a specialist utility with Milford and Johnson running the show.

Although captain Darius Boyd is the incumbent fullback, a move for Milford to the No.1 jersey could also make way for the Kiwis pairing to reunite in Brisbane, while new recruit Sean O'Sullivan is another threat to unsettle the Brisbane duo.

With James Roberts at centre, the pace and creativity in a Broncos team that includes Johnson could achieve anything.

BULLDOGS

Lachlan Lewis emerged as a genuine gun in 2018, but the club struggled to find a halves pairing that was fit and capable to see them through the season.

The club has signed Jack Cogger from Newcastle, but have released Matt Frawley and also lost Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds to the Wests Tigers, so depth is skint.

Kieran Foran is signed until the end of 2020, but battled through injury this season. However, if he is fit, the former Kiwis halves partnership could be a welcome reunion at Belmore.

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