Johnson fends off offers to stay with Warriors

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 09/02/2014
Shaun Johnson
Photosport
STAR MAN: Shaun Johnson has been in fine form for the Warriors.

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The Warriors have pulled off a major coup by re-signing Shaun Johnson until the end of the 2017 season.

In doing so, they have locked in one of the most important players in their squad.

The halfback was coming off contract at the end of the year and, unsurprisingly for a player of his talents, there was plenty of interest in him from both codes.

But Johnson has decided to snub all other offers and commit his future to the Warriors and, significantly, he has sorted out his future out before the new season begins.

Feleti Mateo negotiated his deal with the Warriors in the middle of the 2013 season and he admitted it affected his game, but there won't be any such problems with Johnson and he revealed that he wanted to get everything signed off before the new campaign begins.

"For something this big about my future, I wanted it to be handled before the season started," Johnson told Sunday News.

"So that when it comes to the time to play I can focus solely on that and don't need to worry about anything else. I'm very happy that it's been sorted."

At the age of 23, Johnson is approaching his peak years and this deal will keep him at the club until he's 26.

The Bulldogs and Panthers were both linked to Johnson last season and it was reported that the Ivan Cleary-coached side were prepared to offer him a $2.2 million three-year deal to come to the foot of the Blue Mountains.

While the Warriors haven't announced how much they've paid to keep Johnson, no doubt they have given him a significant pay rise.

"I'm certainly proud of where I am at the moment," Johnson said.

"I'm able to stay at the club I've grown up admiring and always wanted to be a part of and that makes it more special.

"This is massive for myself and my family and I'm very happy."

Johnson, who has also been named as captain of the Warriors' nines team, said a key factor in him choosing to remain in Auckland was that he could see how ambitious the club are and that's not just because they spent a world record fee to sign Sam Tomkins from Wigan.

"A big part of where I'm at at the moment is wanting to win a competition and that was massive in determining where I was going to go," Johnson said.

"Seeing the players that the club have signed, and also who they've retained, played a role in why I'm staying at the club.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing how we go, we've got a chance to do something special and I'm really excited by that."

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Naturally, Warriors coach Matt Elliott is delighted that he's kept hold of Johnson.

"The fact we've extended the contract of one of the most sought-after players around in Shaun is enormously important for our club," Elliott said.

"It speaks volumes for what we're seeking to build here, not just in the quality of players we're able to attract and retain but also in the way they're helping to create the culture we're striving to develop and sustain.

"Obviously Shaun is an exceptional footballer and athlete. He also represents the club well and is critical to where we're going this season and beyond."

- Sunday News

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