Warriors reveal plans for life after Shaun Johnson at halfback
Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/news/109060946/-

2018-12-03 18:16:07

The Warriors are looking for one of their young players to take the place of Shaun Johnson at halfback for next season and haven't gone shopping elsewhere.

While Johnson has got himself a new contract with the Sharks after his acrimonious split with the Warriors, the club's brains trust have been contemplating what their next move is.

Outside players such as Corey Norman, Te Maire Martin, Ata Hingano, Kodi Nikorima and Luke Brooks have all been touted as the big money replacement for Johnson.

However, in his first interview since the Johnson saga erupted, Warriors general manager of football Brian Smith said they're looking to promote from within and aren't chasing other halves.

"Steve [Kearney, Warriors coach] is certainly comfortable with the concept [of staying in house], " Smith said.

"With Blake Green in our group, he's such an experienced campaigner and has great at communications skills.

"Without that, it would be difficult to contemplate a rookie player, but since we've got an experienced guy there, we're certainly contemplating that.

"We've actually got three or four guys there on the board. There's Hayze Perham, Chanel Harris-Tavita, a boy called Paul Turner and also Adam Keighran."

While not ruling out that they may have to look elsewhere for a partner for Green, that is the back up option and Smith says they're not talking to any other NRL clubs about signing one of their halves.

"We're not pursuing anyone," Smith said.

"We're certainly aware of who's off contract and we've been telephoned and have spoken to some clubs who have wondered if we wanted to do any business with guys who are on contract.

"So we're aware of what's available, but we're not in any hurry. It's a big jigsaw puzzle, it's not just halfback, but other positions we could potentially strengthen if the right guys come along."

Smith said there's no chance of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck moving into the halves from fullback, but the versatile Peta Hiku could be looked at as a short-term option.

"With Roger, that was just a short conversation," he said.

"Peta would be thought about there, but I don't think any of us are thinking of it as a permanent move. But then again, if we were to give him a go and it worked, then great. He's certainly got the attacking skills to give it a shot.

"But these are all of the things we've got to weigh up."

If it works out well with one of the young halves, Johnson's departure could be a blessing in disguise, because they've not only brought through a player in a key position, but also now have a spare $1.1 million in the salary cap.

"At this time of the year you're almost always in the position where you're trying to work out a way to pick up $10,000 here, to put it with the bit you've got there, or you might be able to swap a player you want, but you're $100,000 short," Smith said.

"It can be a really tough time to do the inevitable things you'd like to have to complete your squad.

"Now we're in the opposite position to that, where we can take our time, sit back, and look at what's available.

"We don't even have to spend it if we don't want. We can wait until further into the season, there are opportunities to prepay players and put the money into next year, so we can do a lot of things."

It could be that the Warriors mix and match players with Green in halves during the season, to find out which is the best combination.

Smith believes an important factor is that the young halves, will be coming into a stable team.

"The guts of the same team are ready to go again," he said. "It's not like we're throwing a young guy into a team that's previously been unsuccessful and unstable with lots of changes going on.

"We've got the same coach, pretty much the same staff and the same key players in the same key position.

"So to put a young guy in, it's not far off being the perfect scenario."

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