MERCURIAL halfback Shaun Johnson has been told he can explore his options with the New Zealand Warriors not sure he represents the best value at about $1 million a season.
And it appears that at least one club is keen to test his willingness to move to Australia when the NRL player market opens for business in the silly season from Thursday.
The Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday night that Canberra are preparing to make a serious play at signing the New Zealand international — and for the 2019 season if possible.
Is Shaun Johnson on the market?0:00
NRL: Kiwi halfback Shaun Johnson is set to leave the Warriors with the club reportedly not interested in extending his stay beyond 2019.
New Canberra assistant coach Andrew McFadden is believed to be driving the approach after having developed a close relationship with Johnson from his time coaching the Warriors.
The Raiders have lost Blake Austin to the English Super League for next season, meaning their halves pairing is likely to be the modest combination of Sam Williams and Aidan Sezer.
Johnson would be a sizable upgrade in the halves and form a dangerous spine alongside England hooker Josh Hodgson and talented fullback Jack Wighton.
However, it’s yet to be determined if Canberra would be able to fit in his wage demands as the halfback is the highest-paid player in Warriors history.
Shaun Johnson in action for the Kiwis against England at the weekend.Source:Getty Images
It appears Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has tired of Johnson’s hot and cold performances and does not believe the 28-year-old can take the team to the next level.
The Warriors have only made one finals appearance in the past six years and, despite his side-stepping brilliance, there are real doubts whether he can guide a team to a premiership.
Parramatta pair Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman have both been linked with a move across the Tasman to replace Johnson but the Warriors have denied either player is an option.
The Sydney Roosters are another club that has been linked with a move for Johnson, with premiership-winning halfback Cooper Cronk expected to retire after the 2019 season, leaving the club with about $1 million to spend on any possible replacement.
Hayne running out of options0:00
NRL: Fox NRL reporter Cody Kaye says either Mitch Moses or Corey Norman could move on to make way for Jarryd Hayne and unless the Eels can offload a big-name player he won’t be at Parramatta.
KEY OFF CONTRACT NRL STARS
Luke Brooks (Wests Tigers), Chris Lawrence (Wests Tigers), Mitch Aubusson (Sydney Roosters), Dylan Napa (Sydney Roosters), Zane Tetevano (Sydney Roosters), Matt Dufty (Dragons), James Graham (Dragons), Kurt Mann (Dragons), Tariq Sims (Dragons), George Burgess (Souths), Tom Burgess (Souths), Damien Cook (Souths), Bevan French (Parramatta), Clint Gutherson (Parramatta), Mitch Moses (Parramatta), Corey Norman (Parramatta), Coen Hess (Cowboys), Shaun Johnson (Warriors), Issac Luke (Warriors), Dylan Walker (Manly), Wade Graham (Sharks), Val Holmes (Sharks), Michael Lichaa (Bulldogs), Luke Bateman (Canberra), Jordan Rapana (Canberra), Alex Glenn (Broncos).
Spudd: Klemmer could be Newcastle’s modern Harragon0:00
NRL: Mark ‘Spudd’ Carroll says David Klemmer could be a modern Paul ‘Chief’ Harragon for Newcastle should the Bulldogs forward sign with the club.
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Originally published as Rivals raiding $1 million-a-year star
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