AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 24: Shaun Johnson of the Warriors in action during the round 24 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium on August 24, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

During last week it was reported that the Warriors were going to do the unthinkable.

Reports have indicated that the Warriors are willing to let their superstar number seven and marquee player for as long as I can remember, Shaun Johnson, explore his options for his next contract.

Many, myself included, just assumed Johnson would quietly be re-signed before the November 1st deadline and an announcement made soon after.

I certainly never saw Shaun Johnson playing his football anywhere but in a Warriors or New Zealand jersey.

That said, I absolutely love the Warriors’ move, if it is indeed true.

It’s by no means a certainty that Johnson won’t end up re-signing with the Warriors. The reports have stated the club has advised Johnson it may be worth exploring his market value.

There’s every chance the Warriors believe Johnson’s value on the open market is less than what he is asking and they know they can get him cheaper.

It worked with Isaac Luke who recently re-signed with the club on reduced terms.

For the record if Johnson was to sign for the Sharks on November 2nd, I will be the first to trumpet his signing, but I don’t mind the Warriors’ tactics at all … in fact I love them.

Johnson is now 28. That’s still young in that he probably has another six seasons ahead of him, maybe more.

That said, he’s not exactly a player you can rely on playing every game, every season. He’s had a long history of injuries. Most of the good players do suffer injuries at some stage due to going that extra mile.

He’s had seven seasons at the club and is yet to deliver a premiership.

The Warriors came close in 2011 finishing runner’s-up to Manly. They finished sixth and were whacked 40-10 in round one of the finals. Only the ridiculous finals system at the time saw them emerge to week two.

Johnson had a good season but he and James Maloney fell short on the final day of the season.

Since then though the Warriors have only played finals once; in 2018, where they were bounced in round one of the finals by the Panthers.

As good as Johnson has been for the club, and make no mistake he has been great, the Warriors aren’t risking a half that has taken them to multiple back-to-back finals series.

That’s not to say the Warriors won’t be worse without Johnson, but given he could very reasonably command over a million dollars a season, that’s a huge amount of the cap taken up for a player who hasn’t delivered regular final’s footy.

That $1.2 million or-so a season can be split across two halves, or invested in a marquee half to bring a new look and feel to the Warriors.

For far too long it has been a case of keep Johnson quiet and beat the Warriors.

Unfortunately it has also been a case of the Warriors just going through the motions and waiting for Johnson to step past eight players and score. Of course this isn’t a genuine game plan but that’s how it seems as a neutral fan.

A change could be as good as a holiday here for the Warriors, and possibly Johnson too.

Can you imagine SJ in the Storm system? Sign me up!!!

Johnson and Moylan in the black, white and blue? Take me now.

There’s even a chance he could partner Corey Norman at the Eels given the Warriors are looking at Mitch Moses. Yikes, imagine catching those two and Gutherson on a day all three are on?

The Warriors are doing a smart thing in not jumping in and locking in up to $1.5 million a season to Johnson.

He’s a mega star, a marquee player and the countries most marketable star, but if the Warriors don’t believe he can deliver a premiership, they’re best to move on.

Players become a lot more marketable with premiership medals around their necks.

Clubs attract far more fans when they’re winning.

Odds are that angry fans will soon forgive the club for allowing Johnson to potentially walk away should they book regular final’s appearances.

Although eyebrows have, rightfully, been raised over reports of Johnson being told he is free to look around, I absolutely love the Warriors taking a risk.

Either they re-sign Johnson on reduced terms or have a war chest to attack premium talent. There are some huge stars coming off-contract in 2020, as well as the very real chance that teams like the Eels are looking to offload players.

They could pick up Mitch Moses at a reduced price and be in a brilliant position to pick up another play maker by this time next season.

Or it’s all for show and Johnson ends up re-signing on a marquee contract.

No wonder how this plays out, I’m all over the Warriors exploring their options by not being afraid to make a huge call.

Shows character.

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