’He’s a Golden Boot winner’: Croker backs Raiders’ Johnson chase
CANBERRA captain Jarrod Croker can see Shaun Johnson as the solution to the NRL club’s halves deficiency after reports emerged the Raiders were interested in the Kiwis No.7.
Canberra will start 2019 with next to no back up in their halves, after Ata Hingano underwent shoulder surgery and Blake Austin left at the end of last season.
Aidan Sezer and Sam Williams will start the pre-season as the club’s five-eighth and halfback, but the latter is off-contract at the end of next year. Johnson shapes as one of the hottest commodities available to be approached as of Thursday under NRL rules, off-contract at the end of next year and with the Warriors reportedly telling him he could test the open market.
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The Raiders have previously been linked to Parramatta’s Corey Norman but are reportedly willing to take a serious shot at recruiting Johnson, even as soon as for the 2019 season, according to News Corp Australia.
“He’s a Golden Boot winner, he would be handy at any club,” Croker said on the Raiders’ first day back at pre-season training.
“We sort of only have the two halves here at the moment with Ata going down, so any depth is good depth.
“That’s (the Warriors) decision (to let him look around), but it is a little bit surprising, he has been there so long.
“But it’s a crazy game isn’t it?”
Johnson could be lured to the Raiders by his former coach Andrew McFadden, who coached the Warriors between 2014 and 2016 before going into an assistant role and moving back to Canberra this summer.
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However, they’re likely to be one of several clubs interested in the 28-year-old international.
Sydney Roosters will likely need a replacement for Cooper Cronk next season given he’s likely to retire, and will also have the cap space to do so.
The Eels and the Wests Tigers also have halves off contract in Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks, with the latter now being coached by Kiwis mentor Michael Maguire.
Johnson has offered unbridled potential since his NRL debut in 2011 but has only taken the Warriors to two finals series.
“I think every club would enjoy having Shaun Johnson around,” Raiders lock and former Kiwi representative Sia Soliola said.
“He’s a quality player and what he can do just shows the talent he has.”
Originally published as ’He’s a Golden Boot winner’: Croker backs Raiders’ Johnson chase
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