Opinion: Why is everyone so obsessed with the Warriors losing and pinning it all on Shaun Johnson?

Why is everyone so obsessed with the Warriors losing and more to the point, pinning it all on Shaun Johnson?

After bowing out of the NRL Playoffs in Sydney against the Panthers on Saturday night, we’ve had critics call Johnson a $1 million flop and a former coach say they shouldn’t renew his contract.

All on one performance.

Sure, losing hurts and no fan wants to see their team's season ended without a trophy being hoisted but why is it that the Warriors and especially Johnson are copping so much heat when what they’ve accomplished this year is something to applaud.

This is a club that was literally the laughing stock of the competition at the start of 2018, when Billy Slater was effectively laughed off an Aussie footy show for calling them the NRL's club to watch. Were those critics laughing on Saturday?

To answer that, no. They nervously watched as the Warriors started strong then fizzled out. Something that this club has done once or twice over the years.

So what happens? Those critics start taking aim at a guy who has shown loyalty and dedication to a club his entire career and had to play his first knockout match in seven years against a halves combo who shut down Queensland this year.

Yes, Johnson had a bad game. But to label him a flop and suggest he should be thrown to the wolves and replaced by a guy who outperformed him in one playoff match is exaggeration at its worst.

This is the same guy people were applauding a few weeks back ago for dismantling the same club, featuring an outclassed Nathan Cleary, for his role in cementing the Warriors their first playoff spot in seven years.

If we're going to live in the world of "what ifs" why not extend it to the rest of the season and ask "what if we won two more games to finish in the top four?" That's right. Just two games would've done it but can that be pinned solely on Johnson as well? No.

What Johnson, Stephen Kearney, the front office and the club in general have managed to do this year in surpassing expectations and finally returning New Zealand rugby league to the NRL playoffs should be celebrated.

Not to mention the way they've conducted themselves on and off the pitch. No Mad Monday hooliganism or salary cap issues. Just a squad trying their best to give back to the loyal fans who have stuck by them forever.

It sucks the season is over but underneath it all there's something there that hasn't been for a long time – hope.

Hope that this is the foundation for another era of high-flying, big-hitting, Warriors footy that will culminate in the club's first title.

So whether you're a critic, a former coach, a "day one" or bandwagon fan, try to celebrate this top eight finish and look forward to what Johnson and Co. can do next season.

As they say, it's just a matter of faith.

Shaun Johnson.
NRL Premiership rugby league. Vodafone Warriors v Penrith Panthers. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. Friday 24 August 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Shaun Johnson. Source: Photosport