The New Zealand Warriors are prepared to see the back of Shaun Johnson following the Telstra 2019 NRL Premiership competition.
It would seem that he is simply too expensive a proposition for a team that finished 2018 mid-table, and then quietly exited the finals at the hands of the Penrith Panthers.
Even if the Warriors had maintained the form that found them making converts of the doubters at the outset of the fixture, Johnson, at 28 years of age, was playing at the expense of players of equal ability who earned far less.
And so it goes.
The club euphemism, that Johnson was, “free to explore his options,” is the polite way of saying to exercise caution to avoid having the door hit you as it is closing and they unequivocally made it clear that tabling him an offer for 2020 was not in the cards.
Johnson used his own euphemism, that he was, “Spreading his wings,” was the optimistic way of saying he had better play to his pay in 2019 if he wants to find an NRL club willing to give him a job.
The Warriors had never paid a player as much as they paid Johnson and they even refused to have him around on a reduced salary, similar to what they are doing with Issac Luke for next year.
“Out with the old, in with the new,” is our euphemism for the reality that new babies come along to replace old rugby players every day.
As a halfback and a five-eighth, Johnson has spent his career with New Zealand, making his debut in 2011 and playing 162 games. His average is 5.66 points per game and a decent 2019 should seem him surpass the 1000-point milestone.
His record speaks for itself, both in the NRL and international competitions, but like others before him and others to come, he could not outrun the clock and it would seem that he might be reduced to playing on a club well stocked with young talent that would welcome a veteran presence to supply a veteran’s perspective.