You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

As the clock hit 70 minutes on Saturday night and the Warriors sat on a 24-point lead, Dylan Walker began to implore team management on the bench to get Shaun Johnson out of the game and into cotton wool.

Having already played a key role in seeing his side through to their first Preliminary Final in 12 years – with a pair of try assists and a kicking game that went a long way to taking Newcastle's much-vaunted backline out of the contest – Johnson's confidence in his dodgy calf seemed to improve throughout the night on the back of a boisterous crowd of 26,083 at Go Media Stadium.

Eventually even coach Andrew Webster had seen enough, with his star No.7 rested for the final six minutes ahead of Saturday's trip to face the Broncos in Brisbane. 

“With 10 to go when he was double right-foot stepping and carrying on like he was 18, that was frustrating me, I was like 'just calm down, kick to the corner and get off the field' and he's carrying on like a lunatic," Webster said. 

He came super close to not playing... he made sure he got himself to the start line, he's done a terrific job [and] not only did he get himself there, I thought he once again had a big impact.

Andrew Webster

"He gave everyone confidence. Everyone fell into shape and I thought our attack early was a big result of what he was doing."

While he is likely to face a restricted training schedule again this coming week as he manages the injury, Johnson said post-match that he got through the game unscathed and felt little impact from three weeks of minimal team training. 

“Happy I got through it physically and I was really glad I didn’t feel underdone or anything, which I was a little bit nervous about after missing two games and having three down weeks,” Johnson said.

“I felt good out there, felt comfortable and felt in the groove.

“I was really happy with how I was able to tick boxes through the week and then come out and play through that.

“That all comes as you get a bit wiser with age, you take lessons along the way and you learn how to deal with playing with injury.”

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad kicks things off in Auckland

Along with Johnson’s impressive outing, fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad had arguably his best game of the year, registering 32 runs for 297 metres as part of a Warriors side who surpassed 2000 metres in yardage on the night.  

With the club winning their first finals match since 2011, Webster believes a weight will have been lifted from the shoulders of his men ahead of travelling to Suncorp Stadium. 

“Going out in straight sets is always a fear and once you get over that battle you grow this energy," Webster said. 

"You realise we actually belong here... it does massive things for their confidence. 

"We will work out what we have got to get better at, but it'll be good for us."

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

Principal Partner

Major Partners

Official Sponsors

View All Partners