Shaun Johnson won't feature for the New Zealand Kiwis next month after a gruelling year of football, however, the halfback is confident they'll be fine without him.

The Warriors' No. 7 was a short-priced favourite for the Dally M, only to get pipped at the post by Kalyn Ponga in Round 26, with the fullback expected to make his international debut for the Kangaroos next month.

However, Johnson won't face 'KP' with the halfback deciding not to play in the tournament, opening the door for a number of contenders to line up in the halves as SJ takes a well-earned holiday.

“I am going to take a bit of time off,” Johnson told

“The Kiwis are going to be fine. It is not a World Cup year.

“Where I am at, after the season I have had, I really feel like I do need a break.

NRL Rd 10 - Warriors v Panthers
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 06: Shaun Johnson of the Warriors passes the ball during the round 10 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium on May 06, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“I don't ever turn down the opportunity to represent New Zealand, and I think a lot of people who know me know that, so this was a very hard decision but it one that I am very comfortable with, and I am just going to enjoy some time with my family."

Jahrome Hughes and Dylan Brown are the natural options to slot into the halves, but there's a big question mark over whether Brown even deserves to wear the jersey after his off-field controversy this year.

Joey Manu is another option, it's assumed he'll play fullback however the form of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is good enough to be able to afford to move Manu. The likes of Te Maire Martin and Kodi Nikorima have been there before, but they're down the pecking order.

Johnson, who didn't make the World Cup squad last year, revealed he was ready to walk away completely last season, but found new light this year alongside his form.

“Last year I was done. I was ready to call it quits,” Johnson said.

“I was like, ‘this isn't what I remember rugby league to be', and then in pre-season I was like, ‘who knows'.

“The Warriors never promised me anything but they said ‘if I performed, let's talk'. I was okay that I might not be signing on for another year at the Warriors. It was a reality.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 05: Shaun Johnson charges forward during the New Zealand Kiwis training session at Nga Puna Wai on November 05, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

“The season played out the way it did so Webby said you have got to come back for one more and we can re-evaluate then as well.

“I never want to overstay my welcome but right now I feel like I am in a really good place, and it would be silly not to see where that can take us next year.”

The aging halfback is instead focused on the Warriors 2024 season, and after getting his first taste of a preliminary final since 2011, Johnson will be determined to add another a win or two to the tally next season.