NRL: Johnson should take note of maestro's master class

By Michael Brown

Todd Carney directed Cronulla. Photo / Getty Images
Todd Carney directed Cronulla. Photo / Getty Images

Shaun Johnson has been maturing nicely this season but he didn't need to look far last night to see a player who consistently delivers at a high level.

Todd Carney played the role of conductor all night in another excellent display and, while Cronulla weren't always in harmony, he kept all sections in time.

If he wasn't sending regular attacking raids at the Warriors' right-side defence, which has been an issue all season, he was putting in intelligent kicks that kept the home side on the back foot.

This was no better highlighted than in the last three minutes when he stabbed kicks into the Warriors' in-goal and forced repeat sets as the home side tried to get their hands on the ball and launch a desperate, last attempt to snatch a win.

"We needed that at the time," Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said. "Todd came up with those big plays and classy players do that.

"He's in a good place at the moment, Todd, and he just needs to keep cruising along."

It further illustrated why the Warriors threw a big-money offer at him earlier in the season in an attempt to lure him to Mt Smart Stadium. It would have been a tantalising proposition to see Carney play alongside Johnson in the halves but it's likely he will now finish his NRL career at the Sharks after re-signing for another five years.

The Warriors are hoping to lock Johnson into a long-term contract, too, and see him as someone to build a team around but it is a process. He is prone to lapses and was off his game last night.

He had issues with his hands, spilling the ball four times, and also heaved one pass over the sideline trying to find a galloping Konrad Hurrell as a match-winning try looked on the cards. Johnson had done brilliantly to make the break in the first place but his pass was well off the mark.

Statistically, it looked like Johnson had more influence on the match (he had one try assist, three tackle breaks and one linebreak while Carney didn't register) but it was Carney who ruled the show.

- Herald on Sunday

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