Warriors reveal three way battle for Johnson’s replacement
THE Warriors won't consider a makeshift halves partner for Blake Green, leaving two 19-year-olds leading the race to succeed Shaun Johnson.
Coach Stephen Kearney hasn't ruled out going to the market to find a replacement for Kiwis halfback Johnson but his priority is to mould a club junior into a first grade-ready playmaker.
Kearney revealed he won't consider backline utility Peta Hiku for a permanent halves role and nipped in the bud any left-field theories that second-rower Tohu Harris or fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck would be employed at five-eighth.
Instead, it's all eyes on Warriors juniors Chanel Harris-Tevita and Hayze Perham, while former Penrith reserve grader Adam Keighran, 21, could yet earn the sort of promotion he wouldn't have dreamt of when crossing the Tasman last month.
Green has been impressed by Harris-Tevita in the early weeks of pre-season and believes the Junior Kiwis halfback may have his nose in front for an NRL debut in round one.
"You never really know until you throw them in there but they're showing all the signs that they're going to be able to handle it," Green said.
'"We'll probably know more after Christmas when we start getting into some more contact and opposed stuff.
"Whoever comes in, the team we'll allow him to do his thing. There will no pressure to emulate Shaun or anything like that. He's going to be his own person."
Green suspects his organisation role close to the ruck won't change next year and that Johnson'sreplacement will continue to have licence to attack down the Warriors' lethal right edge, where winger David Fusitu'a topped the NRL's 2018 tryscoring charts.
Green, 32, said Johnson's rapid fallout with the club and departure for Cronulla left him shocked and disappointed but it was nothing he hadn't seen before in the NRL.
The charismatic Johnson's pulling power in New Zealand would be sorely missed, Green believed.
"He's been a really big part of this club and a really big part of encouraging young kids in this country to put on their footy boots.
"As a mate I'm really proud of what he's done here and his role in the game."