Matured Johnson relishes Warriors return
Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson says his acrimonious split with the NRL club in 2018 has led to him returning to the franchise as a tougher and more mature player.
Johnson was involved in a public spat with then coach Stephen Kearney and chief executive Cameron George as he was pushed out of the club.
The Warriors cited Johnson's performance levels as not being commensurate with his high wage as one of the reasons for his exit.
But after settling their differences, the 31-year-old has come full circle and returns to the Warriors ahead of the 2022 season.
"I've mentally grown leaps and bounds," Johnson said from the club's Redcliffe base on Tuesday.
"Coming back here after a few years away, that's the biggest gain I've had.
"Physically I've had my struggles, but mentally and understanding what winning football looks like is pretty clear.
"I didn't think at the time that I needed to leave. I tried to make the most of the situation I was dealt. It took a couple of months to realise I had a lot of growth to do."
The halfback, who got out of hotel quarantine last week, has left his wife Kaylah and daughter Millah in New Zealand with a reunion looming in the shape of the Warriors' round-15 clash with Penrith at Mt Smart Stadium.
After thinking he had played his last game for the club in 2018, Johnson said his return to Warriors colours was an emotional one.
"I got my kitbag when I left quarantine and I went home and tried my kit on and looked at myself in the mirror," he said.
"It was like it was my first day at school.
"There was disbelief that I was back. Coming in today I spoke to the boys and I got a little choked up thinking about the journey I've been on and being able to represent the club."
That journey will hopefully include an improvement on the Warriors' recent seasons.
Since Johnson left the club in 2018 they have failed to make the finals.
The only other time they played September football in the last decade was in 2011, when Johnson burst onto the scene and the club made the grand final.
"Everyone is here to help turn the club around and I think that work has already started, I'm just here to help continue that," he said.
"They lost a number of games this season by very close margins so I think they are in a far better position than a few years ago."
Meanwhile the Warriors will also have Jesse Arthars at their disposal next season after Brisbane agreed to loan him out for 2022.
The centre will then return to the Broncos for the final year of his deal in 2023.
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