David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL Nines: Shaun Johnson 'disappointed' after loss

New Zealand Warriors Shaun Johnson congratulates the Parramatta Eels. Photo / Greg Bowker
New Zealand Warriors Shaun Johnson congratulates the Parramatta Eels. Photo / Greg Bowker

Warriors captain Shaun Johnson cut an emotional figure following their gut-wrenching NRL Auckland Nines final defeat to the Parramatta Eels, but the No7 declared the tournament a personal success.

Much of the build-up to the two-day event centered on Johnson making his long awaited playing return from the broken ankle that ended his 2015 season and he made it clear he was intent on leading his side to an elusive title win.

Once again, the 25-year-old was the Warriors best performer of the tournament, saving them from an embarrassing pool stage exit with a brilliant individual try against Brisbane, before steering them to finals victories over Canberra and Gold Coast.

A corked thigh suffered early in the final blunted his impact against the Eels, but Johnson finished the weekend certain that he was back to full fitness and his best form.

"I'm disappointed. Like I said (prior to the tournament), we wanted to win it and we had a chance to and that hurts," said Johnson.

"But from a personal point of view I'm pretty stoked. To get through the weekend, get tackled and get tackled around the legs at full speed. Its little things and those are probably the final stages of my recovery.

"I feel, going into training next week, going into trials, and going into round one, that I'm ready now.

"This tournament gave me a good opportunity to see where I'm at and I'm pretty happy."

Johnson is likely to miss the Warriors first trial against the Titans in Whangarei this weekend, with coach Andrew McFadden confirming he wants to rest his leading nines players.

New recruit Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is also set to be rested after suffering a calf strain in the latter stages of the tournament, along with Solomone Kata (ankle) and rookie Henare Wells (hamstring).

"It's a bit sore. I just got a knock on it and it's just a cork so it'll be alright," said Johnson.

Meanwhile, Konrad Hurrell expressed his relief at escaping suspension after being involved in a heavy collision that left Manly captain Jake Trbojevic concussed in Saturday's physical pool encounter.

Hurrell, who last year was suspended for three games after his raised knee shattered the jaw of Cronulla defender Anthony Tupou, admitted his controversial running style still needs work.

"I'm just happy I got out of it," he said. "I've been running like that since the Under 20s and it will be hard for me to change it.

"It's not just me, other players run like that. I just need to look at it and work on it."

- NZ Herald

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