'Let's not lose him': RTS reveals first reaction to Johnson exit

"Let's not lose him, let's not lose him."

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's first thoughts when Shaun Johnson's time at the Warriors began to end were to salvage the situation.

Tuivasa-Sheck has moved on from the bitter split between the franchise and their marquee man, now well and truly the face of the Warriors as they enter their first season without Johnson since a 2011 grand final run in his debut season.

Johnson meanwhile will turn out in his new Cronulla colours on Friday night in Newcastle less than 24 hours prior to the Warriors' season kicking off against the Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium.

His three-year Sharks deal came about after one of the messiest NRL exits in some time, both the Warriors and New Zealand international trading public barbs last year.

As a captain, teammate and friend, Tuivasa-Sheck initially didn't want Johnson to leave his junior club, and was as shocked as any when Johnson requested, then was granted, an immediate release last November.

"It was tough. Shaun is really good fella and a really good footy player so it was tough to see him go," Tuivasa-Sheck told NRL.com.

"As a friend, I was in there; 'let's not lose him, let's not lose him.' I didn't want to see him go as a mate. But those things, they're between the player and his management, and the club.

"They've got to do what's best for them, what's best for both parties. Now Shaun's happy where he is and the club's happy and moved on".

Stephen Kearney's side takes those first steps with Blake Green in Johnson's old No.7 jersey and debutant Adam Keighran alongside him.

The Warriors still have a serious chunk of Johnson's salary to spend in their cap should a marquee half hit the market throughout the season.

But for now Kearney has plumped for former Panthers junior rep Keighran over local product Chanel Harris-Tavita, who the skipper sees shades of Johnson in.

In announcing his team Kearney stressed he "wouldn't be changing from week to week to week" when it comes to his playmakers, with Keighran to take on Johnson's goal-kicking duties as well against Canterbury.

Tuivasa-Sheck expects both young halves to get a run at some point this year through the natural attrition of an NRL season, declaring an added ball-playing element among the Warriors forwards would ease his own play-making load.

"Chanel's your flair. He'll be like a young Shaun Johnson coming through the ranks," Tuivasa-Sheck.

"He's got really good footwork, serious speed.

"And Adam's got a really strong footy IQ. He's got a good kicking game, he knows the game. Whichever one you go for, it's a tough choice but you get something different and something exciting.

"I'm enjoying my role and it doesn’t change too much this year. The middles are actually the guys that get a chance to play a bit more footy.

"We've re-signed Issac Luke which is a positive for us there too and Blake Green has been outstanding taking over there.

"I think both Chanel and Adam will go really well once they get some confidence and more games under their belts".