The Roar
The Roar


NRL News: Johnson drops huge hint on playing future, Manly confirm Schuster payout, Latrell ban is 'killing' him

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
22nd April, 2024
7387 Reads

Warriors coach Andrew Webster wants to see Shaun Johnson suit up alongside boom recruit James Fisher-Harris in 2025, saying the star halfback is “huge for the team”.

Aged 33 and off contract, Johnson is starting talks with the Auckland-based club and says the signing of fellow Kiwi international Fisher-Harris has made him think deeply about a new deal.

Penrith’s triple premiership prop will join the Warriors at the end of the current season on a four-year contract.

“It’s certainly something to celebrate and want to play on for – it’s a massive scoop for the club,” Johnson said following training at their Auckland base on Monday.

“So much goes into making a decision about whether you play on. I’m open- minded and am taking it week by week.

“For me to make the decision to play on I have to receive a contract offer, and that hasn’t happened yet, but I am certainly starting those conversations with the right people.”

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 26: Shaun Johnson of the Warriors celebrates his try during the round four NRL match between New Zealand Warriors and Canterbury Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium on March 26, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Shaun Johnson of the New Zealand Warriors. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

While Johnson wasn’t firm on his future, Webster was adamant he wanted the veteran at the club in 2025.


“A hundred per cent, would love to have Shaun around again,” Webster said.

“I think he’s huge for our team, he’s important, love the way he is playing but it’s only early in the season.

“We’ve got a good relationship, we’ll work it out when we can.”

The Warriors suffered a 30-12 loss to St George Illawarra on Friday night but will fancy their chances against winless Gold Coast in their Anzac Day match in Auckland.

They are looking to create their own annual fixture after travelling to Melbourne for 13 Anzac Day games since 2009.

Johnson said the loss to the Dragons was disappointing but the Warriors were confident they could quickly recover.

“The best part about it is that we don’t have to wait long to right our wrongs or build on the things we did well because although we got blown out, there were things I was really happy with,” said Johnson, who has been carrying an achilles injury which has restricted his training.


“Just too many moments where we lapsed in concentration or let them off the hook and just didn’t defend our errors, so they are the sort of things we want to get right this time.

“I don’t think there’s a better time than Anzac Day to get things going for ourselves.”

Webster meanwhile confirmed utility forward Dylan Walker was likely to be available to play the Titans after five weeks sidelined with an ankle issue.

Schuster sent packing with golden handshake

Manly will formally terminate their contract with backrower Josh Schuster, handing over $600,000 and a further $200,000 every year for the length of his three-year deal.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, they will now go to the NRL to audit their salary cap and work out how much they have to spend going forward.

The expectation is that the $200,000 in annual payments will remain on their cap over the course of the deal, which will be considered a victory given the $800,000 contract of a player languishing in reserve grade.


Schuster will take time away from the game to assess, and Manly are happy to pay him out rather than sack him, informing the NRL and the player that, though they could breach him due to clauses in his contract, they preferred to settle mutually.

The central issue with Schuster was his weight, with clauses in his contract set around how heavy he could be.

After attempting to transition to play in the halves in 2023, he dropped a considerable amount of kilos but was hamstrung in 2024, when moving back to the edge, by chickenpox and then surgery on a finger injury.

Souths ban ‘killing’ Latrell, says brother

It is “killing” the suspended Latrell Mitchell to watch from the sidelines as South Sydney fight to save their season, says Rabbitohs prop and brother Shaq Mitchell.


Jason Demetriou’s future seemingly hung in the balance ahead of the Rabbitohs’ last game but Mitchell was powerless to help save his coach, after being suspended for raising his forearm to the head of Warriors half Shaun Johnson a week prior.

Souths’ gallant losing performance against Cronulla was enough to spare Demetriou the axe in the side’s last start.

But the coach may not be out of the woods yet, with tough clashes against Melbourne and Penrith in the next fortnight.

Superstar fullback Mitchell is banned from both of those key games as the 16th-placed Rabbitohs go in to battle for their coach and their season.

“He’ll tell you himself, he hates watching,” older brother Shaq said of Mitchell.

“He loves playing the game, he loves jumping up with the boys.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 06: Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs reacts following the round five NRL match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and New Zealand Warriors at Accor Stadium, on April 06, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Latrell Mitchell. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)


“It’s killing him at the moment but it is what it is. He’s copped it on the chin and he’s getting us ready to ramp up and hopefully when he comes back, we’ll be flying.”

Mitchell said his brother had been “Mr Energy” around Heffron Park since receiving his ban and had been particularly supportive of stand-in fullback Jye Gray.

The diminutive Gray impressed during the pre-season and made his NRL debut as Mitchell’s replacement in the loss to the Sharks.

“He (Mitchell) is very enthusiastic, he brings the energy. If everything starts dying down, he brings it back up,” Shaq Mitchell said.

“He’s been around the game for a while and helps Jye-Boy out. I think it’s more a fact of letting (Gray) play his game, just saying, ‘It’s good to play your game, don’t be like me, we’re two completely different players’.”

As the Rabbitohs look to revive their campaign, speculation has swirled about Mitchell returning to the centres, where he played for the Sydney Roosters in their 2018 and 2019 premierships.

Such a shift could reinvigorate Mitchell following a middling start to the year, and would allow the highly-rated Gray to stay in the side long-term.


Mitchell’s older brother did address the specifics of who should be playing fullback, but hoped there could be room for both men in the Rabbitohs’ team once Latrell returned in round 10.

“For sure (Gray) should be fitting in there,” he asid.

“Having both them in the same side is going to be very dangerous. You’ve got the power game (from Mitchell) and you’ve got the speedster (Gray) as well.”

Shaq Mitchell said it felt “awesome” to be closing in on a contract extension with the Rabbitohs, who handed him his debut as a 26-year-old two seasons ago. “I seriously don’t want to go anywhere,” he said.

with AAP