No more confidence crisis for Johnson
Halfback Shaun Johnson has admitted to suffering a crisis of confidence during the Warriors' disastrous 11-game losing streak that included three consecutive losses to start the year.
The Warriors finally snapped their streak with an upset 20-18 win over North Queensland last week but as they prepare for a much tougher outing against undefeated South Sydney on Sunday, Johnson – nicknamed 'Magic' for his ability to conjure attacking opportunities out of nothing – said that he still had a lot of work to do to regain the scintillating form he demonstrated during the side's run to the 2011 grand final.
"A lot of it has to do with confidence and I know that my confidence personally took a big hit with the way the team was performing (in late 2012 and early 2013). Being a halfback, you tend to thrive on confidence.
"Even last weekend, I thought our combination was pretty good but we got lazy on some plays and switched off for that split second where you saw the ball hit the ground a couple of times. That was directly on me."
Asked how he had gone about addressing the problem, Johnson told NRL.com: "I think you've just got to get back to basics and doing well what got you into the team in the first place. But you've got to work really hard at that stuff throughout each week.
"For me, two little key ones were making my tackles and running the ball. I was able to do a bit of that on the weekend and I felt pretty good doing it so that really helped me.
"The Cowboys game gave some of that confidence back with how we were able to play as a team and stick to what Matty (Elliott) had given us to go out on the field and do.
"In terms of my combination with Thomas (Leuluai), that will take a while to fully gel and we understand that so we're just in the process right now of making sure it's the best it can be during the game."
The Warriors were woeful during their eight consecutive losses to finish the 2012 season and haven't been much better in 2013, with a 40-10 loss to Parramatta to start the year, a home defeat by the Roosters in Round 2 and another heavy loss against Cronulla a week later.
They also trailed North Queensland 12-0 midway through the first half before finally discovering some of their long-lost attacking spark in the second half.
Johnson, though, said that it had never been a simple case of being more adventurous with the football in hand.
"I don't think it would be too hard to be a little bit more adventurous given what we've put out there the past few weeks," he said. "All we did on the weekend was stick to our structures that we've been given by Matty in attack. Honestly, that's all we did and we found that the offloads and passing the ball around came off the back of that.
"We didn't go into that game thinking we were going to do that, our goal was to execute our attack to how we know we can do it and we knew the second-phase footy would flow from that."
Johnson said the Warriors had quickly adapted to Elliott's style, insisting they aren't doing a whole lot different to what they've done the past two seasons under Ivan Cleary and Brian McClennan.
"It's all pretty similar," he said. "I think everyone in the NRL runs the same sort of shapes and that, it's just who can execute it the best. The plays we're running this year, they're nothing new to us. It's just about doing it well.
"If you look at the Rabbitohs who we've got this week, they're one of the best in the comp at doing that. That's where we've got to get to.
"Obviously it was good to get that win last week but just because we've won one game doesn't mean we think all of our problems are solved. This is just the first step in what's going to be a long process to get us to where we want to be. By no means are we satisfied. We still want to work hard and keep improving on what we're doing."