NRL Rd 1 - Warriors v Dragons
SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: Shaun Johnson of the Warriors kicks the ball during the warm-up before during the round one NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Sunshine Coast Stadium, on March 12, 2022, in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

New Zealand Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson and centre Viliami Vailea are approaching their respective return from injuries.

Both players suffered injuries in Round 1 against the St George Illawarra Dragons, with Johnson hurting his pec and Vailea his knee.

The club have confirmed that both players are returning to training this week in a statement.

It was estimated at the time of the original injuries that both players would miss between three to four weeks, making them a possible inclusion for this Sunday's clash against the Brisbane Broncos. If not, it was thought both players would return in Round 5 against the North Queensland Cowboys next Friday night.

The Warriors have reverted to using Chanel Harris-Tavita and Kodi Nikorima in the halves during Johnson's absence, however, the star is rated as a chance of returning this Sunday after being named on Nathan Brown's extended bench for the clash with the Brisbane Broncos.

The Warriors' form has been poor, however, they got off the mark for the season with a win over the Tigers last Friday.

With Johnsons' injury history, it would seem imprudent to rush him back, but if healthy it's detrimental to the team if he's on the sideline.

There is no doubt the Warriors are a far better team with Johnson in the side, even if he didn't star in Round 1. They desperately need Johnsons' experience, leadership and talent if they are to build upon their first win of the season.

Vailea, on the other hand, missed selection and is still a week away, with Jesse Arthars and Rocco Berry to continue in the centres.

While he didn't light the world on fire in his third NRL match, Vailea will be better for the run upon his return. Only 19-years-old, the young centre needs to get game time under his belt. With the centre position being a point of struggle for the Warriors so far, he could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

The club also confirmed Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is progressing well as he targets an April return from a broken thumb.