THE Warriors have locked down their highest earner for the long-term, with Shaun Johnson recommitting to the club despite lucrative interest from NRL and overseas rivals.
The New Zealand No. 7 has inked a new two-year extension despite a $ 1 million deal understood to have been offered from English Super League and interest from Sydney clubs.
Johnson’s retention until the end of 2019 is a significant coup for new coach Stephen Kearney, with fellow international playmaker Kieran Foran almost certainly leaving at the end of the season.
The 26-year-old has always spoken of being a one-club player and lifting the NRL’s sleeping giant to its maiden premiership.
But after years of underwhelming returns since leading the Warriors to the 2011 grand final in his rookie season, for the first time Johnson considered leaving his local club to pursue success elsewhere.
In a week where Test forward Ben Matulino has announced his move to the Wests Tigers and out of favour utility Tuimoala Lolohea is being pursued by Canberra and former coach Ivan Cleary, Johnson’s recommitment is a serious shot in the arm for the Auckland-based franchise.
“This was a big contract for a lot of reasons and I’m excited to be able to lock it away and know I’ll be here for another two years,” Johnson said.
“My belief in this club is massive and my belief that we can do something special here is bigger than ever with everything we have in place.
“ … There was more to think about this time but, in the end, it came down to winning.
“I could go to another club and another system but I realised winning there (at another club) wouldn’t mean as much as winning here. That’s what I want to be a part of here.”