Ben Ikin and Josh Reynolds addressed Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson’s sizzling start to 2018 on NRL360 on Tuesday night as the glow of his double-field goal effort against Canberra lingers.
Maligned as inconsistent, an enigma, virtually ever since his mind-blowing 2011 rookie campaign, Johnson’s up-and-down form has been somewhat unfairly pilloried as a microcosm of the underachieving Warriors’ woes.
But with the super-steady Blake Green alongside him in the halves, Johnson’s best-ever beginning to a season has coincided with the first 3-0 start in Warriors history.
“(Johnson’s) performances seem to be evening out a touch,” Ikin said.
“The peaks and troughs aren’t as high and low, (although) he’s still going to have those highlights.
“I’m seeing a bit of an evolution (in Johnson) playing next to Blake Green.”
— NRL (@NRL) March 24, 2018
Injured Wests Tigers recruit Reynolds – who has plenty of experience being tarred with the ‘enigmatic’ brush himself – empathised with his contemporary.
“I feel a bit sorry for Shaun Johnson,” Reynolds admitted.
“For four or five years, he’s had that much pressure on him, from the whole of New Zealand (as halfback of) the New Zealand Test team and the New Zealand Warriors.
“Now he’s got someone like Blake Green in there who can control that Warriors team.
“I think Shaun Johnson’s best asset is his running game (and) Blake Green’s freeing that up for him.
Johnson’s field goal heroics seem to have deflected attention away from the fact his devastating running game and willingness to take on the line largely went missing against the Raiders.
He was credited with one run for four metres in the Round 3 triumph.
But in the opening two rounds he was electric, leading all halfbacks with 77 metres per game, and recording three line-breaks and 13 tackle-breaks – equal-first and second in the NRL respectively.
Ikin rounded off the Johnson chat with a sentiment every rugby league fan would concur with.
“The thing about Shaun Johnson is that when you see him do his best work, you want to see him do it over and over and over, it’s that good to watch.”
Meanwhile, Issac Luke was named at hooker in NRL.com’s Round 3 Team of the Week. Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck nabbed spots on the bench, with Dragons duo Ben Hunt and Matt Dufty occupying the halfback and fullback berths after the Saints’ demolition of the Titans.