AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 31: Head Coach Stephen Kearney of the Warriors chats to Shaun Johnson after winning the round 25 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Canberra Raiders at Mt Smart Stadium on August 31, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Following the early contract release of Shaun Johnson to Cronulla, Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has said that he was surprised to hear that Johnson felt they had a poor working relationship, as reported by Fox Sports.

Johnson has signed a three-contract with the Sharks, having sought an early release from his Warriors obligations, and cites his unhappiness with Kearney as one of the reasons for his departure.

“I’ve been there (Warriors) eight years and had six coaches,” Johnson told reporters in Sydney.

“The sixth coach didn’t like me, so what.”

Kearney and Johnson’s history dates back to 2012, when Kearney, as coach of New Zealand, introduced Johnson as a replacement for Benji Marshall.

When Kearney became top dog at the Warriors in 2017, the playmaker was slated to be the jewel of the team’s crown.

“I can honestly say, after spending close to 20 Test matches working with him, and certainly at close quarters over the last two years … the first time I heard about that (poor relationship) was two weeks ago following the request for a release,” Kearney said.

“It came as news to me but I’ve been around the business long enough to know that that happens.

“It’s unfortunate that it happens and we all move on. I’ve got no problem with Shaun.”

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Kearney reiterated that Johnson was a crucial cog in the Warriors’ plans for 2019 and that he was committed to helping him improve.


  1. I thought that by definition a “crucial cog” is an indispensable part of the machine. Clearly Kearney is unaware of this.

    I just hope for his sake that Kearney’s wheel nuts aren’t equally as “indispensable” along with his break pads. Otherwise the Warriors, like Kearney, could be in for a nasty surprise! ⛽💥🚗

  2. Porter another bottom feeding cronulla fan hows it feel champ read about your cheating team daily in the off season hahahahahah

  3. What did Kearney expect? That Johnson would sing his praises after they basically shoved him out the door mid contract. Kearney is one of the most overrated coaches history (same as when he was a player).

    That said, Johnson’s not exactly value for money. All style and no substance. Should fit in well at the gummies with the likes of Dugan, Gallen and Moylan.

  4. Johnson at the warriors was the wrong fit. For the longest time, the warriors have been a hideously inconsistent team. He has developed as a player that embodies that same style.

    I think when he says “didn’t like me”, he is just referring to the fact he was not to be retained after the contract. To me, that is just a bit of emotional blackmail and Kearney was right to be part of that decision. The warriors had him on a big contract and he couldn’t deliver the type of consistency required for that type of money (can Kearney coach consistency? another fair question). Johnson absolutely needed to go somewhere else.

    He might do well at the Sharks. I don’t know, though – I haven’t been too impressed by Moylan and Johnson and Moylan sort of have the same off the cuff vibe about them. Sharks have been good grinders for a few years now – it could go both ways, but they could spoil that by signing Johnson. I felt they somewhat spoiled it by signing Moylan and letting Maloney go.

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