Shaun Johnson is out of the Warriors' team for their Round 21 clash with Canberra on Sunday afternoon. Credit: Shane Wenzlick. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden cut a dejected figure after star playmaker Shaun Johnson all but ended any chance he had of taking part in Sunday's match against the Raiders.
Johnson was ruled out of last week's loss against Manly after injuring his groin during the Warriors' final team run but was named to start in Canberra this week.
The injury was considered to be minor but after re-aggravating it at training on Thursday, McFadden said Johnson was unlikely to take his place in the side for Sunday's match at GIO Stadium.
It could also mean Johnson will spend an extended period on the sidelines at a crucial stage of the season.
Many were surprised to see the 23-year-old halfback at training and McFadden revealed after the session that he wasn't expected to be there.
"We were happy for him to do some build-up work on the side," McFadden said.
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"He felt pretty good in that so he wanted to have a crack, but obviously that didn't last very long.
"It's unlikely he'll take his place this week."
Johnson was given specific rehabilitation exercises to perform, but was later seen kicking and running and testing out his groin while side stepping.
He then called for assistance from medical staff before leaving the session after just 20 minutes and did not return.
"Sometimes you sort of feel all right, so it's sort of like a trial and error type thing," said Warriors utility Thomas Leuluai, who recently returned from a similar injury.
"But he'll definitely learn from this because sometimes it just creeps up on you."
Leuluai took Johnson's place in the halves against Manly but was restricted from kicking due to groin problems.
Five-eighth Chad Townsend struggled to cope with the increased workload, failing to create productive finishes on the fifth tackle.
Leuluai said he feels confident he can offer more this week as the Warriors seek to bounce back from consecutive losses that dropped them to ninth place on the NRL ladder.
NYC star halfback Tuimoala Lolohea, who debuted last Sunday, is on an extended the bench and will be expected to play more minutes as Leuluai switches to hooker to relieve Nathan Friend late in the game.
Leuluai also backed fullback Sam Tomkins to step into the halves if needed - he played there when the pair were Wigan team-mates in the UK Super League.
The Warriors haven't won in Canberra since 2001 and will need to win this week if they are to stay in the playoff hunt.
Conversely, the Raiders have won just one of their last seven matches and are languishing at the foot of the table after a disappointing loss to South Sydney on Monday.