Diary Of An Aotearoa Warriors Fan: Adults Being Weirdos


The strangest thing about Shaun Johnson's Facebook post regarding his contract situation with New Zealand Warriors is that it didn't really clarify anything. In fact, here we are even more confused than we were 24 hours ago. Of course, the tone of Johnson's yarn suggests that he is out the door but ol' mate SJ7 could have said so in a far more concise paragraph ... just one paragraph and not five.

And so it begins, the battle between Johnson and New Zealand Warriors. Obviously this is a complex situation and there are so many wrinkles to this narrative that regardless of how you or I get there, the end result of thinking, reading and talking about this only leaves you confused. As I reckon I'll be writing about this a bit over the summer, I'm going to make it clear throughout the process that the Warriors started this public battle; a completely unneccesary battle.

All of this could have been handled quietly, the Warriors could have waited for Johnson to get back from Kiwis duty before engaging in discussions. Instead, the Warriors played along with a mainstream media outlet who had a 'scoop' - probably straight from the boss dawg Cameron George given that George quickly backed up that scoop - and in doing so, the Warriors set the scene for this to be played out in public.

To which Johnson responded with a whole lot of nothing.

To which the Warriors apparently responded with a whole lot of nothing, disputing Johnson's claims of nothing.

Having seen how this is going down, it's clear that communication between the two parties is terrible. Johnson and his team (manager etc) have one idea of what's happening, the Warriors apparently have a different idea and that tells you all you need to know about the communication between the two. I don't want to get caught thinking too far ahead about who replaces Johnson, or how Johnson plays in 2019. Why drift off into the future when the present is so damn funky!?

To be honest, I don't know what's happening because we've got no idea who is telling something close to the truth. The funkiest wrinkle that pops into my head though is that Johnson alluded to there being no contract for him to sign past 2019 and that at this stage the Warriors won't be offering him anything. Lemme clarify that...

It's late November 2018 and there doesn't have to be a contract for Johnson to sign past 2019. The Warriors have 12 months to sort that out and a lot can happen in the NRL during such a time period. Having no contract to sign for 2020 and beyond, is a non-issue.

As such, why would the Warriors be in a rush? The Warriors may want to see what Johnson delivers next season, or they may want to wait and see how their young halves options who are astronomically cheaper develop over the summer (Chanel Harris-Tavita, Paul Turner, Hayze Perham, Adam Keighran). Or the Warriors may wait to see how the transfer market looks in a couple months.

There is no need for the Warriors to have a contract for Johnson (of any value) now and there is no need to rush through this process. Johnson kinda explained how the Warriors are being smart about this, which is funny. Only that Johnson appears to have taken all of that to mean that he's later bo. I may be miss-interpreting this and when we don't know who is being straight up, it's easy to miss-interpret things; George outlined a similar vibe though when he said nothing's actually happened.

The Facebook post idea, is also interesting. Chur to Johnson for adopting a media-less path where he can try to control the narrative/give clarity straight to the fans. First and foremost, that's fabulous and with social media, the mainstream media aren't required for athletes to get their message out there. However, just because it's on Facebook doesn't mean that Johnson's manager hasn't given it a once over and ensured that it says nothing.

Just because there are emojis and colloquial language, doesn't mean that Johnson's words haven't been carefully crafted. This was clearly a move from Team Johnson, to put the ball back in the Warriors court and George was quickly giving word to a mainstream outlet in response - to hit it back into the Warriors court.

Johnson simply has to decide whether he wants the big bucks or Warriors first. Peace and love either way there, I'm not fussed. The Warriors have marked down their territory and are willing to get niggly to establish their territory; the Warriors don't view Johnson as worth his current contract or an upgraded contract. It's wise from the Warriors to keep Team Johnson in the action, keep turning responsibility back on to Team Johnson and now Team Johnson responded.

Ideally, we hear nothing about this for a few months. Both parties get into the Mt Smart offices and suss things out, like normal human beings. For the Warriors and Johnson to both communicate indirectly to each other is yucky. As long as things stay yucky, it's only going to get harder and harder for Johnson to be Warriors-first and take less money. Maybe that's the angle the Warriors are using?

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Peace and love 27.