Johnson never considered skipping Nines

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson says he can't think of any reason why an NRL player wouldn't want to suit up for the Auckland Nines. Despite his star turn in the Four Nations, the Kiwis star said he never considered resting himself from the pre-season tournament.

Johnson grew up in the small town of Whangaparaoa, 25km north of Auckland and said as a New Zealander he sees it as his responsibility to help develop rugby league in his home country.

"Being from New Zealand it's a good chance to put rugby league in the spotlight and a good light, so I wanted to be a part of it and be a part of the process of building rugby league in this country," Johnson told NRL.com at the Auckland Nines Fan Day on the eve of the tournament.

"The fans are why this is so special to us. You saw the turnout of fans last year. They really appreciated having this tournament here so hopefully it stays.

"They make what we do even more enjoyable. Hopefully we get out on the field and put on a show for them. The way they react and the numbers they turn up in, it's pretty cool so hopefully they can do that again."

You can watch every Auckland Nines game LIVE with the NRL Digital Pass

He said the support gave the Warriors a huge lift in its largely successful 2014 Nines performances.

"We walked out for the warm up last year and there was a massive roar, we thought something was happening on the field but it was just to welcome us out onto the pitch!" Johnson said.

But he added the side was desperate to go one better after being bundled out one game before the Final by inaugural winners the Cowboys, having dominated its pool games. But it didn't mean his young team was feeling any additional pressure.

"I think we expected ourselves to go well [last year] and we were just disappointed we couldn't get through to the Final. It gives us a bit more to want to do a bit better this year and hopefully we can."

There were some lessons the Warriors could take from their semi-final exit last year, but the 24 year-old was reluctant to share them.

"There's a few but I won't say them – just for the share factor, I don't want anyone else picking up on them!" he laughed.

"But I think we've got a strong squad right across the park. I think Sam Lisone, a young gun in the middle, he can do some damage for us, players like Sammy Tomkins and Tui Lolohea will be good. Solomone Kata is a little nugget, he rips in and goes hard which is what we want."

The Warriors are in the Hunua pool with Wests Tigers, Canberra Raiders and Gold Coast Titans.

You can watch every Auckland Nines game LIVE with the NRL Digital Pass