Chris Rattue: Time for Shaun Johnson to turn his game around

Shaun Johnson during the Kiwis' poor performance in Perth. Photosport
Shaun Johnson during the Kiwis' poor performance in Perth. Photosport

Shaun Johnson needs to shut his trap about topics like Kieran Foran and get on with being a Kiwi test force for now.

He wasn't alone, but Johnson was abysmal in the Kiwis' league loss to the Kangaroos in Perth.

What do we read next from Johnson? Quotes about how shifting from Sydney to the Auckland-based Warriors can turn Foran's life around.

Who cares about the sidelined Foran and loser Warriors right now? We are in the test season, there is a Four Nations title to be won, and flaky Shaun Johnson needs to get his head into that game.

In other words, forget about turning Foran's life around and turn your game around Mr Johnson. Become a leader instead of a wayward follower, and make it obvious you have been putting every last drop of energy into the Kiwis since they were named and have been in camp.

Prattling on about his mate Foran reinforces the idea that Johnson's problem is he lacks focus and desperation.

Johnson should produce every time he is on the field, like Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and company. Instead, the impressive side of Johnson appears about as often as a Lotto prize.

Different jersey, same result. Having failed at the Warriors in 2016, the over-rated halfback went AWOL against the Kangaroos.

How long do we have to put up with this? He's 26-years-old, with well over 100 first grade appearances and a stack of tests.

In all honesty, I wish Thomas Leuluai had stayed at the Warriors and Johnson had taken off. Hit and miss footballers simply don't work at league's top levels anymore. Johnson gets lauded, but he's emerging as a club and country wrecker.

Leuluai, who is heading back to Wigan, plays tough and tried his best for the Kiwis on Saturday night while Johnson fluffed about like Joe Superstar.

Leuluai made brave tackles while Johnson was missing to the end when Boyd Cordner cruised past for a try. Leuluai also did the hard work for Johnson in the NRL this year, taking the ball to the line to give Wonder Boy some space. Not that it did much good.

Moving on...

New Kiwis coach David Kidwell copped harsh lessons as he prepares for the Four Nations.
Some players have what it takes for tests, and some don't. Wrecking ball Martin Taupau has it, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves doesn't.

The game had barely started when Kiwi prop Waerea-Hargreaves dropped the ball and compounded the problem by belting Johnathan Thurston in the head, giving Australia a penalty and chance to build pressure which never eased off. The Roosters prop did nothing to make up for it either.

How Waerea-Hargreaves got away with the cheap shot is anyone's guess? League looks like it is paying lip service to the rapidly growing worldwide concern over sports concussions.

The swinging arm wasn't put on report, but Kidwell should not be fooled. No wonder previous Kiwi coach Steve Kearney had gone off the alleged enforcer.

As for Shaun Kenny-Dowall's test shocker...at least the big centre always plays like he means it.

- NZ Herald

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