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Warriors expect seniors players to fill void left by Shaun Johnson's sudden exit

Warriors boss Cameron George expects senior players will have a role in deciding who fills the chasm left behind by Shaun Johnson.

The search for a new halfback swung into action yesterday after the most high-profile player at the Auckland club had his request for a release granted.

Johnson's teammates were informed by coach Stephen Kearney, prompting a quip from George that it was fortunate they had a yoga session soon afterwards, "which will be nice for them to relax a little bit after getting that news".

However, the chief executive expected the players to bounce back quickly and even hinted the leadership group would play an active part in the recruitment drive, supporting the work of Kearney and key officials Brian Smith and Peter O'Sullivan.

"They'd be mad not to talk to the leadership group, I've got no doubt they will," George said.

Veteran half Blake Green could be the loudest voice as the Warriors pursue a player who can click with his structured style close to the ruck.

Seasoned professionals such as Green will also be important in telling younger players not to fret over Johnson's explosive exit.

"They'll be disappointed because Shaun's been a big part of their lives," George said.

"They've grown up with Shaun but it's also another example of what this competition's like.

"It's really important the guys bounce off the back of this adversity and show our fans that we're not going to miss a beat."

Another to feel the loss of Johnson is the Warriors marketing department which had already made the 28-year-old a central part of the club's 2019 promotional campaign.

It is unclear what impact a shift to Australia will have on Johnson's partner, Silver Ferns netballer Kayla Cullen.

The injury-prone Cullen is contracted to Auckland club the Northern Stars for 2019 but may now seek a release herself and try to shoehorn a contract in Australia's Super Netball competition.

George said he expects any replacement for Johnson to play to their "maximum".

Asked whether he was referring to Johnson failing to consistently deliver on his price tag, he told News Corp Australia: "Look, I have no doubt the coaching staff had been working with Shaun around his performance, particularly consistency.

"I think without a shadow of a doubt that has been an issue that is apparent and that has been addressed by the coaching staff from time to time.

"In my personal view, I think that has been certainly an issue that has presented itself for a while now.

"We need consistent performances and therefore we need consistent individuals, and not everyone has been doing that."

Cameron George said the club comes first, no matter the player. Source: 1 NEWS


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