The stench given off by the Cameron George and the NZ Warriors in instigating the departure of Shaun Johnson is so pungent it makes a Rotorua sulphur lake smell like a rose garden.
Announcing that your marquee player is no longer a solid part of your organisation’s long-term plans without first informing him of your intention would be bad enough were said person living in the same postcode.
Doing it as actually happened when the guy is away over on the other side of the world playing for the national side is downright injudicious, extremely unprofessional and callous. Yet that’s the basic facts of how the NZ Warriors started the process which now sees Shaun Johnson actively on the lookout for another NRL club. And what’s even worse, the way things have played out, the overwhelming perception is that it was a decision taken almost with a kind of relish by Cameron George and the club.
In the manner of what a small boy said to ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson after the betting fraud of the 1919 Baseball World Series, regarding the way the Warriors have gone about casting Johnson off: ‘Say it ain’t so, Cameron’.
Are those guys for real? And just to put the metaphorical boot squarely into Johnson’s ribs that bit more, they at first said he would not be granted an early release from his contract. After telling him he wasn’t a part of their long-term plans. Nice one.
And this morning came the vindictiveness- ‘Shaun Johnson is being released as he is no longer a person who fits in with the Warriors values or culture’. In fact, that quite possibly translates to ‘Shaun Johnson is too good a player to be wasting his time playing for a wildly inconsistent team with delusions of a championship’.
If there is no other reason coming to light for all this petty vitriol from George and his club at Johnson, such as he already began engaging in secret talks mid-year with another club, or clubs; then those running Penrose HQ are arrogant, self-important buffoons. How else to judge their bolshiness if there are no extenuating circumstances in this?
And it’s a bit rich to single out Johnson for the Warriors’ shitty seven-year malaise. He’s had so many different partners in the halves. He’s an often extraordinary player, not a miracle worker. And a guy who’s short passing game has been unfairly under-rated.
Nearly all of the great Rugby League halfbacks were borne from great combos: Stirling and Kenny, Mortimer and Lamb, Stuart and Daley, Langer and Lewis/Walters, Cronk and Finch/Widdop. Shaun Johnson never really had a dog’s show. Especially in being consistently cast to the wolves by poor recruitment and a perceived unsupportive hierarchy.
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