Warriors star Shaun Johnson has hailed the leadership and cool head of five-eighth Blake Green as crucial during tough times in the wake of the side’s stellar victory over the Brisbane Broncos.
The Warriors were well served by Green and halfback Johnson working in tandem in the 26-6 win at Suncorp Stadium in a welcome return to form for the Stephen Kearney-coached side.
The Warriors are on track to play finals football for the first time since 2011 and Johnson said Green had been a rock for his teammates even when they had experienced some lows, as they did in the round 17 loss to the Panthers.
"At the start of the year there is not too much pressure. It is all fairies. You pick up five wins on the trot and it is all guns blazing," Johnson said.
"But what I have understood about Greeny is in the last month or so where we’ve had a bit of adversity and some games we didn’t play too well in, but the leadership he has shown in those times is what stands out to me the most and shows how important he is to this group.
"He is the person who pulls the strings. I like to call him the conductor, and that allows me to have my eyes-up and play off the back of it, and inject myself where I see fit…but I really like the way he has stood up when things haven’t gone so well."
Johnson worked alongside Green with great impact against the Broncos, and in concert with fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and hooker Issac Luke proved a real handful without overplaying his hand.
"It is having those conversations with those key players where I can inject myself without disrupting what the team is doing real well, and I got the balance of that pretty well," Johnson said in the sheds after beating Brisbane.
"I didn’t want to get fixated to one side and Cappy [assistant coach Andrew McFadden] has given me the free licence to go and find the ball, and I found myself in some good positions.
"I understand it is not going to be like that every week. You are going to have games where you are a bit limited or teams shut you down in certain ways but if I can keep that same mindset of just going after the footy then more times than not I should find myself in the right spots.”
The Warriors were brilliantly served up front by the likes of Agnatius Paasi and Simon Mannering against the Broncos with the entire pack giving the razzle-dazzle spine plenty to work with.
"When we feel like we are on, it is when our middles are doing their job,” Johnson said of his spine’s display.
"Iggy [Paasi] charges off the kick-off and gets popped twice, but he gets back up and is into it again.
"When we get that go-forward we [as a spine] find a way to be involved. It feels effortless for us. That is not saying we don’t work on it during the week.
"We often chat about footy and how it looks for us but when we are in the zone and our middles are doing the job is when we feel really comfortable around one another."
Johnson provided some perspective when asked whether it was frightening to contemplate what the Warriors spine could yet achieve this year.
"Last week it was a completely different conversation after the [Panthers] game so we are not going to say 'it is frightening [or] 'you should be scared'," he said.
"Perceptions can change week-to-week and this week it is going to be a good week for us. We can get back and get into our work and not worry about outside noise."
The Warriors, in seventh position on the ladder, host the second-placed Melbourne Storm on Sunday in search of their first win over their fierce rivals since 2015.