7 Dec 2018

Johnson: Kearney didn't like me

5:50 pm on 7 December 2018

Shaun Johnson's public breakup with the Warriors rolls on, the star Kiwis playmaker saying coach Stephen Kearney didn't like him.

Shaun Johnson and Stephen Kearney celebrate a milestone for the star playmaker.

Shaun Johnson and Stephen Kearney celebrate a milestone for the star playmaker. Photo: Photosport

Johnson was granted an early release from his contract by the NRL club last week, signing a three-year deal with the Cronulla Sharks two days later.

The 28-year-old didn't initially take the chance to criticise the Warriors in his first media appearance for the Sydney-based club on Thursday.

However in a later interview with the Daily Telegraph, Johnson opened up more about his former club, speaking specifically about Kearney and chief executive Cameron George.

"I've been there eight years and had six coaches, the sixth coach didn't like me.

"I rode the tough times, I tried to keep fans engaged, I tried to play a style that got kids excited every week.

"I know that, my family knows that, which is why I can say no, [leaving] doesn't really affect me.

"Regardless of what a CEO says, that's been there a year or two, [my love for the club] dates back a lot longer for me.''

Johnson, who played 162 games for the Warriors during his eight years at the club, also reported he declined an offer to join the reigning premiers the Sydney Roosters in 2020.

Criticised by some as inconsistent, Johnson helped take the Warriors to the 2011 grand final and New Zealand to Four Nations final glory.

He was also crowned the 2014 world player of the year.

But Johnson said he'd trade all his silverware or any individual accolade for an elusive NRL premiership.

"I think that would be the most important thing to any player playing in this game. I'm no different.

"There's 15 teams out there with the exact same goal. They're not running around the field for any other reason than to hold that trophy up at the end of the year.

"It doesn't matter what they're paying me, I know I can add value. I've got no point to prove."