AAP Rugby

Johnson unflustered by Warriors reception

By AAP Newswire

Shaun Johnson says facing the Warriors is just another day at the NRL coalface although the Cronulla star admits he'll be on high alert when he first touches the ball.

Johnson ran freely at the Sharks' final run in Wellington and looks almost certain to face his former club on Friday after injuring his ankle in last week's heavy loss in Melbourne.

Matt Moylan and Paul Gallen also came through Thursday's session after missing the Storm clash and their presence at Westpac Stadium would mean plenty to the injury-wracked visitors, who are desperate to avoid a fifth-straight loss.

Johnson expects a lively reception from a Warriors team he served in at-times magical style for eight seasons before crossing the Tasman in acrimonious circumstances last November.

He says his relationship is still close with many of his former teammates but isn't so sure if that sentiment applies to the crowd.

"It is what it is. It is just another game of footy and I don't want to blur those lines too much," Johnson told Radio Sport.

"I have to tackle them and they have to try and tackle me. Hopefully, they are ready for me.

"The only thing I have been thinking about is whether I am going to get booed or not. We have got a little sweepstake going."

Johnson's roller coaster plight at his new club this season mirrors what his Warriors opposite - and Kiwis halves partner - Kodi Nikorima has gone through since crossing the Tasman from Brisbane in round nine.

Expectations were high on arrival for both players but form has fluctuated, bringing with it a share of criticism in recent times.

Both responded with bright individual showings last week but Johnson couldn't prevent a 40-16 loss to the competition leaders while the Warriors came away with a frustrating draw in Brisbane.

Johnson, 28, said the scrutiny on him over the last month sparked flashbacks of his time in Auckland.

When the Warriors slumped the criticism was almost always directed at the mercurial playmaker.

"I don't know who thought this but everyone expected it to be just smooth sailing and a really smooth transition (to Cronulla) where I would just slot in, kill it straight away," he said.

"I would have loved to have had a better start to the year and stay injury-free. But this is part of the journey and part of adapting to a new football club."

Both teams are clinging to the fringe of finals football.

The ninth-placed Sharks sit two points outside the top eight and are one point ahead of the 12th-placed Warriors.

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Warriors have failed to clear 20 points in their last 11 games against the Sharks. They lost nine of them.

* Cronulla's 17 tries from kicks is the second-best of any team this season. The Warriors are worst with six such tries.

* The Warriors have won seven of 30 games outside Mt Smart Stadium in New Zealand, including two of nine in Wellington.