Former Warriors star and new Sharks signing Shaun Johnson says he bears no grudges against his old club and declared he made the move to Cronulla to win an NRL premiership.
Fronting Sydney media for the first time since joining Cronulla, Johnson admits he took a pay cut to join the Sharks on a three-year deal, and said if he wanted to earn more money he would have remained at the Warriors.
The 28-year-old Kiwi international joined his new teammates and Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan at Southern Cross Group Stadium at training this morning, after being granted a release last week from the final year of his million-dollar per season contract with the Warriors.
Despite the acrimonious manner in which he left New Zealand, Johnson refused to badmouth the Auckland-based outfit, and said money was never a factor in his decision to part ways with the club he debuted for back in 2011.
“They’re a club that want to do well,” said Johnson.
“They’re a club that’s looking to win a premiership and if they don’t see me as worthy of what they were paying me that’s fine.
“People will say you’re only worth X amount but at the end of the day it’s irrelevant. We were all playing footy long before we got paid for it.
“If it was all about the money I would have stayed there. I would have stayed and played my contract out. I’m here to win a premiership.
“I know I can add value. I believe in myself, it doesn’t matter what they’re paying me.”
After making a grand final appearance in his rookie season, Johnson and the Warriors failed to feature in the playoffs for six long years before they finally scraped into the top eight this season.
Their finals campaign was fleeting however, with the mercurial playmaker coming under fire for failing to deliver in the Warriors’ week one qualifying-final defeat to Penrith in Sydney in September.
The lure of joining a consistent top four team was a big factor in him joining the Shane Flanagan coached 2016 premiers, and Johnson is excited about the Sharks title prospects in 2019.
“I think that would be the most important thing to any player playing this game. That’s why you do it,” he said.
“There are 15 teams out there with the exact same goal. That’s all of our mindset and that’s why I believe this is the greatest comp in the world.”
Having owned the No 7 jersey in eight seasons at the Warriors, Johnson is set to move one spot wider and play five-eighth for the Sharks, alongside halfback and former Warriors halves partner Chad Townsend.
Johnson’s legion of supporters can expect to get their first glimpse of him in Sharks colours during their preseason trials against Manly in Sydney on February 23, and Newcastle at Maitland on March 2.
The Sharks then open their 2019 NRL campaign with a Friday night away clash against the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 15.