Shaun Johnson says Sharks 'more vocal' than 'timid' Kiwis

2019-03-15 05:46:45

The one thing that stood out for Shaun Johnson when he first arrived in Sydney's Sutherland shire was the way the Cronulla players and staff talked to each other.

"One thing that opened my eyes was how honest and open every conversation is here," Johnson told the Sun-Herald. "And you have players giving it to other players, and players responding.

"It's a culture where they understand, 'if I get into you, it's because I want to win and want the best'. It's never personal.

"That's the biggest change for me from back home. The way us Kiwis grow up, we're quite timid. You have a conversation rather than someone being into you and blowing up at you.

"I haven't been on the end of [a spray] yet. Maybe everyone is taking it easy on me because I'm still learning the ropes here.

"The leaders are the most vocal ones. But the coaches give it to you. If [assistant coach] Jimmy Dymock sees something wrong, he doesn't pause, he'll pull the trigger and let you know. But he does it for a reason."

It's not just the talk that sets Johnson apar. His poster-boy image would appear in complete contrast to the likes of teammates Andrew Fifita and Josh Dugan, but the five-eighth smiles and says, "let's just say we have a good variety and we all complement one another".

Another thing that has quickly become clear for Johnson is how resilient the Sharks are, even as the salary-cap saga hung over the club's head and the players adjusted to life under new coach John Morris.

"I feel like everyone expects it to be distraction, but the one thing this club is is resilient - it's been through its fair share of crap," Johnson said. "A lot of it has been outside the playing group's control. It's admin stuff, now the salary cap.

"When you're in group, everything is blocked out. We're here to prepare the best we can for the season. That's what I love. This latest situation hasn't had one impact on the playing group."

The day Johnson was trotted out to the media the Warriors announced coach Stephen Kearney inked a new three-year deal.

Johnson had nothing but praise for the coach, even though he was forced to leave his childhood club and his family.

"I understand everything happens for a reason. The Warriors believe he's the man for the job, and I genuinely wish him all the best. There are no dramas there at all," he said.

The 28-year-old said being reunited with the Sharks' former Warriors halfbak Chad Townsend was nice and he felt no pressure from the fact he signed a multi-million dollar deal.

"I have my own expectations that I know I want to live up to and I can deliver on," Johnson said. "I'm just excited to join a tough, resilient footy side. and to be part of what I feel can be a pretty special season.

"There are 15 other clubs feeling the same. It's about being in the moment and enjoying the process, learning new ways and adapting to new circumstances.

"I know there will be challenges along the way. I know there will be bad days I have and I might wake up with a bit of head noise. Who knows.

"What takes me back is the reason why I'm here. Everything happens for a reason. I have family three hours away, they can come whenever they want and it's not like I'm doing this on my own.

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