Warriors amazed at Johnson's toughness
He has forged a reputation as one of the most
naturally gifted and skilled players in the NRL, but
right now Shaun Johnson’s toughness is what’s setting him apart from the rest.
For the second week in a row Johnson shrugged off injury in order to play a starring role for his side, going the extra mile during the week to ensure he was there on game day.
With 48 run metres, a try assist and 10 points off the boot, Johnson’s contribution was vital against a stubborn Knights side who despite going down 38-18, were in the game right up until the final 15 minutes.
“There is not one NRL player that goes out there at 100 per cent, so I am not going to sit here and moan because I have a sore ankle, it is just part of the game,” Johnson said following Sunday’s victory at Mt Smart Stadium.
“It was a pretty tough game out there, they were a pretty physical side so I was happy I was able to get through it.
“I got through our first [training] session pretty good so I just kept looking after it and I wasn’t keen to miss this game.”
After playing in all 12 of the Warriors’ games so far this season, as well as lining up for the Kiwis in the May Test, Johnson battled a groin injury in the lead-up to the Round 11 clash with the Titans.
He played that game, but left the field in the final 10 minutes with an ankle injury which once again put him in doubt for the following week, causing McFadden to put rookie half Tuimoala Lolohea on standby.
But according to Warriors physio Hamish Craighead, Johnson’s work throughout the week means he is always a good chance of recovering in time, regardless of the injury concern.
“He is pretty diligent, he comes in early and does his rehab. He is really good with his recovery as well, which is a big part of it,” Craighead said.
“He does his ice baths and always stretches down, he is very good with that.
“He is right up there [among the toughest players], he can manage himself through it.
“This week he had a bad ankle but he had guts and did really well I thought.
“He was good during the week, we were going to keep him out of training Tuesday but he came right pretty early.”
Teammate Sebastine Ikahihifo, who won an NYC premiership with Johnson in 2010, said his halfback’s commitment to taking care of his body was an inspiration to all of the young players coming into the NRL squad.
“It is something I look up to, if he is toughing it out then there is no excuse for other people,” Ikahihifo said.
“He is a tough player, there are a few players that come before training and do rehab, and Shaun is one of them. That helps him to get through the week and be there on game day.”
Against the Knights Johnson also clocked up his second-straight 60-plus points week on NRL Fantasy, which sees him meet his break even of 57 and increase in price once again in 2014.