17 Jan 2019

Warriors no longer shopping around for Shaun Johnson replacement

7:59 pm on 17 January 2019

The Warriors coach Stephen Kearney says one of the young players who are already part of the squad will fill the void left by departed star playmaker Shaun Johnson.

New Vodafone Warriors player Adam Keighran.

New Vodafone Warriors player Adam Keighran. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Johnson made a shock exit from the NRL club to join the Sydney-based Cronulla Sharks in late November, after requesting an early release from his lucrative contract.

Kearney has confirmed they won't be bringing in anyone to replace Johnson and play alongside five-eighth Blake Green.

Kearney says newcomer Adam Keighran and fellow youngster Chanel Harris-Tavita are the frontrunners for the role, with 19-year-old Hayze Perham an outside chance.

"All three young men obviously sense there's an opportunity and we've been putting them in as Greeny's [Blake Green] other half - different each week. So they're getting a run with Green so the three of them a tracking along nicely."

"At this stage we're happy with the guys we've got."

NZ Warriors player Chanel Harris-Tavita.

Warriors player Chanel Harris-Tavita. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

21 year old Keighran is yet to play in the NRL, having been at the Bulldogs and Panthers, while 19 year old Harris-Tavita has come through the Warriors ranks.

Kearney wouldn't say if there was one player standing out to replace Johnson.

"I couldn't say at this stage, it changes from session to session. All I know is they're working really hard with Stacey and Toddy [assistant coaches Stacey Jones and Todd Payten], and obviously Stacey has a lot of experience in that area and is doing a lot of work with them."

Kearney is in no hurry to make a decision.

"That's the point in why we've been swapping the guys each week and giving them a run, getting them familiar around the shadow NRL top 17, and we won't make that decision until after the two trials we have.

"So they'll get an opportunity to play together against Melbourne, but in terms of a final decision we won't do that until we have to.... the week before the competition starts."

The Warriors have preseason games against the Melbourne Storm in Geelong on 22 February, and Wests Tigers in Whangarei on 2 March.

They open their NRL season against the Bulldogs on 16 March.