Waterboy Johnson calls for control
Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson has implored his side to continue to build on what he believes was their most controlled performance of the season against the Bulldogs last Saturday.
On their way to the 24-20 win in Wellington, the Warriors finished 82 per cent of their sets for their second-highest completion rate of the year, and managed the game in a way which limited the impact of Canterbury-Bankstown's formidable forward pack.
But for Johnson it was the kicking game and the way they finished sets which was most pleasing, and something he wants to see repeated when they face Melbourne at AAMI Park on Anzac Day.
"Yeah it was [my best general kicking performance of the year], I'm very happy with the way we kicked and I thought the boys around obviously did a good job in getting in shape and opening up those spaces for us to get a kick through," Johnson said.
"It was probably the first game of my career where I have sort of felt that it wasn't my flashiest game, I didn't do anything spectacular, but my ability to dictate where I handed the ball over to the opposition and get the boys around the park was something I am pretty proud of.
"[But] it means nothing if not just myself, but the team, don't go out there and build on what we did against the Dogs on the weekend.
"We are doing it against a Storm side who are probably the kings of it and set the benchmark for everything we did on the weekend in terms of patience and handing the ball over in the right parts of the field."
Coach Andrew McFadden was quick this week to praise the performance of Johnson, who was playing his first game of the year at halfback rather than five-eighth, following the demotion of Jeff Robson.
"I thought he had a terrific game, one of his best directing games for the year, and that is what we want from him," McFadden said.
"What we know about Melbourne is they are going to put some pressure on. They will have a plan to try and counter that so we have to adapt.
"I think we were pretty patient [against the Bulldogs], we waited for our opportunities and when we got them we utilised the football, it's going to be no different this weekend against Melbourne.
"These games are traditionally a real battle so we have got to be patient again."
Meanwhile Johnson will also have the unusual role of acting as waterboy for a local Auckland junior team this weekend, after running a competition on his Facebook page.
With a day off on Saturday before the Warriors fly out to Melbourne, Johnson put the word out on social media and received a huge response from local fans, with the post being shared over 600 times.
He will act as waterboy for the under-10 Manurewa Marlins 'Southsiders', who play at 10.30am on Saturday at Mountfort Park, Manurewa.
"I wanted to get out, I wanted to hang out with some kids and wanted to be around some grassroots footy teams," Johnson said.
"To be honest I did not expect the response I have had from it… I am very, very excited to get out there this Saturday.
"I know if someone like Stacey [Jones] or Sean Hoppe – the players who I looked up to – if you knew they were coming to run water for your footy team you would have the whole neighbourhood there."