Shaun Johnson will suit up in Vodafone Warriors colours for the first time in 1267 days when he runs out for the club’s second and final 2022 NRL trial against the Gold Coast Titans at Moreton Daily Stadium on Saturday (2.00pm kick-off local time; 5.00pm NZT).
The 31-year-old, the oldest player on this year’s roster, last played for the club in their week one finals loss to Penrith on September 8, 2018, the eve of his 28th birthday.
After leaving the 206-game veteran out of last Saturday’s trial against the Melbourne Storm, head coach Nathan Brown today confirmed Johnson will start in the #7 jersey at the club’s adopted home ground for the 2022 campaign.
It will mark his first appearance in three years, five months and 18 days on day when he’ll line up in a side which includes just two survivors from his last season – prop Bunty Afoa and Jazz Tevaga (with new captain Tohu Harris side-lined).
While Johnson’s comeback match is a key feature so, too, is Brown’s choice in the halves.
With Reece Walsh ruled out of the opening two rounds of the season, Chanel Harris-Tavita is again being used at fullback this weekend leaving him poised to wear the #1 jersey in the round one clash against the St George Illawarra Dragons at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday, March 12.
That left experienced new signing Ash Taylor and the seasoned Kodi Nikorima vying for the #6 spot with Brown giving the nod to the latter.
While Johnson comes into the squad Josh Curran is also back from a head knock suffered in his appearance for the Indigenous All Stars against the Māori All Stars on February 12.
Match: Warriors v Titans
Round 2 -
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Chanel Harris-TavitaFullback for Titans is number 1 Jayden Campbell
Winger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-ZelezniakWinger for Titans is number 2 Phillip Sami
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Rocco BerryCentre for Titans is number 3 Brian Kelly
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Viliami VaileaCentre for Titans is number 4 Patrick Herbert
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo MontoyaWinger for Titans is number 5 Corey Thompson
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Kodi NikorimaFive-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Alexander Brimson
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun JohnsonHalfback for Titans is number 7 Toby Sexton
Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-BlakeProp for Titans is number 8 Moeaki Fotuaika
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde EganHooker for Titans is number 9 Erin Clark
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Bunty AfoaProp for Titans is number 10 Jaimin Jolliffe
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Euan Aitken2nd Row for Titans is number 11 David Fifita
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Eliesa Katoa2nd Row for Titans is number 12 Beau Fermor
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Josh CurranLock for Titans is number 13 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Jazz TevagaInterchange for Titans is number 14 Tanah Boyd
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Kina KepuInterchange for Titans is number 15 Sam Lisone
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Ben Murdoch-MasilaInterchange for Titans is number 16 Jarrod Wallace
Reserve for Warriors is number 7 Reece WalshReserve for Titans is number 17 Will Smith
Reserve for Warriors is number 8 Matthew LodgeReserve for Titans is number 18 Herman Ese'ese
Reserve for Warriors is number 17 Aaron PeneReserve for Titans is number 19 Kevin Proctor
Reserve for Warriors is number 18 Bayley SironenReserve for Titans is number 20 Sosefo Fifita
Reserve for Warriors is number 20 Taniela OtukoloReserve for Titans is number 21 Paul Turner
Reserve for Warriors is number 21 Ashley TaylorReserve for Titans is number 22 Treymain Spry
Reserve for Warriors is number 22 Edward KosiReserve for Titans is number 23 Greg Marzhew
Reserve for Warriors is number 23 Jack MurchieReserve for Titans is number 24 Esan Marsters
Reserve for Warriors is number 24 Adam Pompey
Reserve for Warriors is number 25 Junior Ratuva
Reserve for Warriors is number 26 Jayden Corrigan
- Referee: Chris Sutton
- Senior Review Official: Chris Butler
Johnson and Curran are joined by first-choice hooker Wayde Egan, who is returning after offseason shoulder surgery, and second rower Jack Murchie.
In naming a 25-man squad Brown has selected the strongest squad available with Harris the only frontline player missing along with Walsh and prop Matt Lodge; Walsh and Lodge were both used against the Storm but are ineligible for selection in the opening round due to the suspensions they carry into the season.
In Lodge’s absence, Addin Fonua-Blake and Afoa both start at prop with hooker Egan, second rowers Euan Aitken and Eliesa Katoa and loose forward Curran rounding out the starting pack.
Three players without NRL experience are on the extended bench – contracted development prop Otukinekina Kepu, winger Junior Ratuva and train and trial fullback Jayden Corrigan.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v GOLD COAST TITANS
Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe
2.00pm, Saturday, February 26
1 Chanel HARRIS-TAVITA
2 Dallin WATENE-ZELEZNIAK
3 Rocco BERRY
4 Viliami VAILEA
5 Marcelo MONTOYA
6 Kodi NIKORIMA
7 Shaun JOHNSON
8 Addin FONUA-BLAKE
9 Wayde EGAN
10 Bunty AFOA
11 Euan AITKEN
12 Eliesa KATOA
13 Josh CURRAN
14 Jazz TEVAGA
15 Otukinekina KEPU
16 Ben MURDOCH-MASILA
17 Aaron PENE
18 Bayley SIRONEN
20 Taniela OTUKOLO
21 Ash TAYLOR
22 Edward KOSI
23 Jack MURCHIE
24 Adam POMPEY
25 Junior RATUVA
26 Jayden CORRIGAN
Head coach | Nathan BROWN