Kiwi superstar Shaun Johnson has been given a chance to secure his legacy after signing a three-year NRL deal with Cronulla.
Johnson was on Saturday spotted in the Shire meeting with coach Shane Flanagan and senior players Wade Graham and Andrew Fifita before officially putting pen to paper on a long-term deal.
While the Sharks were always the front-runners to secure the New Zealand Test playmaker’s signature after he was granted a release from the Warriors, it was rumoured he was only set to sign a one-year deal with the Sharks.
Johnson had been linked with the Sydney Roosters, who will be on the lookout for a replacement for premiership hero Cooper Cronk when he hangs up his boots at the end of next year.
But after a tumultuous week, the 28-year-old put his future to bed.
“It’s been a crazy few weeks but it’s good to lock it all away,” Johnson said.
“I can’t wait to get over here and to rip in. It’s really exciting.
“I want to add value where I can. The Sharks are a tough side, they know how to win and that’s what I’m excited to be a part of.”
Johnson has been the face of rugby league in rugby union-mad New Zealand since his breakout debut season in 2011, during which he guided the side to the grand final.
Despite amassing 162 first-grade and 29 Test appearances, his inability to win a premiership and questions about his consistency have dogged him throughout his career.
His exit from the Warriors was hastened after he was informed by management he wouldn’t be offered a deal beyond 2019, prompting him to ask for a release in search of an opportunity elsewhere.
He will now play behind one of the best forward packs in the competition, which features the likes of Paul Gallen, Aaron Woods, Graham and Fifita, all of whom are renowned for their grit and resilience.
Johnson effectively takes fullback Valentine Holmes’ spot in the Sharks roster, after the Queensland and Australian star’s decision to chase his NFL dream in America.
Johnson will help nurture Flanagan’s son, 20-year-old halfback Kyle, who made his NRL debut this year.