He's won a Four Nations series, a Golden Boot award and played in a grand final, but Shaun Johnson reckons the proudest moment of his career will come on Sunday.
After overcoming the hamstring problem that sidelined him for two weeks, the New Zealand halfback will record his 200th NRL match when his Sharks face the Titans at C.ex Coffs International Stadium.
"My understanding is I'm going to get to run out onto the field with my daughter [Millah] and even thinking about that just gives me the chills," Johnson said after training on Wednesday.
"I don't even know – that's just out of it for me. So I've got a feeling that [experience] is going to be right up there."
Having debuted for the Warriors in 2011 – losing to the Sea Eagles in that year's decider – Johnson has scaled the heights of rugby league but acknowledged "there have been setbacks along the way".
"There have been mountains that you've had to climb and adversity that you've had to go through," the 32-time Kiwis player said.
Magic career of Johnson
"People telling me that I'm a touch [football] player and nothing more, people saying I'm the most inconsistent player in the game and injury-prone this, injury-prone that. You get it all.
"But the fact is I'm still here playing and playing my 200th game. So it'll certainly be a proud moment to share that with my daughter, my wife [Kayla], I think my Dad's coming over."
Rugby union is New Zealand's national sport, but Johnson said he knew that it was "always league" that he enjoyed most.
He remembers watching the Warriors "when they were flying" in the early 2000s and being inspired by the likes of Stacey Jones, Clinton Toopi, Sean Hoppie, Ali Lauiti'iti and Henry Fa'afili.
"[I'll reflect] when I talk to my family, the guys that have been there not even just since I came into first grade, since I was a little kid running around for the Hibiscus Coast Raiders," he said.
"This was once a dream that just felt so unachievable. It was like you had to be really special to play in the NRL and you put the guys that you idolised as a kid up on a pedestal.
"The fact that we're even talking about me playing my 200th game this weekend, I'm like, man, how do you get so lucky to do that? Through a lot of good support, through a lot of love and care.
"It's been a pretty cool journey to share it with those people. So they're the people I will certainly talk to about it after the game first."
After beating the Dragons last week, Cronulla sit in 12th place with three wins banked and they're now starting to regain troops.
Sharks v Titans - Round 12
The clash with the Gold Coast will be only Johnson's fourth appearance this season after he spent the early rounds rehabbing the Achilles injury that curtailed his sensational 2020 campaign.
Both he and halves partner Matt Moylan will be keen to impress with the pair still off-contract. Johnson said he'd spoken to incoming Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon but all options are open.
"I'm just tonguing to get out there with the boys and just put on a good team performance," the 30-year-old said.
"And we if do that, we're confident we'll walk off with the points."
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