David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson on missing the NRL finals: It feels like crap

Shattered Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson admitted his side were guilty of committing schoolboy errors in Sunday's spirit-crushing NRL 40-18 defeat to Parramatta.

Johnson was visibly upset after emerging from the Warriors sheds following his side's season-ending error-strewn performance against the Eels at Mt Smart Stadium.

The 26-year-old spoke of his pain and disappointment at missing the NRL finals for a fifth year in a row and said the players realised they had underperformed throughout a turbulent 2016 campaign.

"It's disappointing to end our season the way we have," said Johnson.

"I'm over it, obviously. It is frustrating. It feels like crap.

"We all put in so much effort. We know the talent we've got. We know the roster we've got and we expect a lot more of ourselves.

"And when you don't achieve what you set out to achieve it's very disappointing.
"Coming off the run of playoff series we've missed now...(it) adds up."

The Kiwis international was unable to wield much influence upon the game and the Warriors struggled for cohesion on attack thanks largely to a whopping 17 errors that gifted the visitors territory and possession.

Johnson struggled to explain his side's habit of committing unforced errors and concede soft tries after the Warriors blew a 12-0 lead to let the visitors back in to match.

As they did late in last week's do-or-die clash against the Tigers that sealed their finals fate, the Warriors folded in the second-half against the Eels after being behind 22-18 at halftime.

Despite discussing the need to eradicate mistakes from their play and working to improve their concentration and focus at training each week, the Warriors continue to let themselves down in the fundamental areas of the game.

"We gave up, again, too many soft tries that we just don't seem to learn our lesson from," he said.

"No one in particular, it's a collective thing. Its schoolboy stuff some of it.

"We train that, we learn that when we're coming through the grades.

"Its basic fundamentals that we don't place enough importance on at the moment. So it's hurting us. It hurt us again tonight. It hurt us in the previous game.

"We've got to sit with the feeling for a very long off-season leading into preseason."

Johnson insisted the players are their own harshest judges and call each other out when unforgivable mistakes are made out on the field.

The fact they showed the mettle required, during stages of both their up-and-down season and for periods in the game against the Eels, to prevent the opposition from scoring, made it all the more frustrating when they concede easy points.

"Yeah, we are. We're out there holding each other accountable. You can't not pull someone up on the stuff we're doing.

"There was a period there in the second-half where we showed that we can stop tries. That we can turn the opposition away and keep defending.

"And it takes a bounce of the ball for them to break us open.

"It's frustrating and it sucks but we turned up for each other and we showed that we do have that in us. It's just not consistent enough."

The players feel guilt and responsibility for coach Andrew McFadden's position coming under question as a result of their poor showings and Johnson revealed little could be said among the group post-match.

"Obviously we've put him in a very vulnerable position," said Johnson.

"He thanked the players that have served the club, the boys that are leaving.

"And there's not much you can say. We let him down again and let ourselves down."

- NZ Herald

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