David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Shaun Johnson puts recovery first

Warriors Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson watch from the stands during the side's NRL Nines loss to the Parramatta Eels. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Warriors Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson watch from the stands during the side's NRL Nines loss to the Parramatta Eels. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Warriors star Shaun Johnson's groin injury is not serious but he was not prepared to risk sustaining further damage by playing at the NRL Auckland Nines.

Johnson was ruled out of day two of the Eden Park tournament, having sat out day one after the injury proved troublesome during the team's warm-up.

The 26-year-old wanted to play but with his speed and agility restricted felt he could not make a strong contribution.

Together with the club's coaching and medical staff, he decided not to risk further damage and stayed on the sidelines as the young and inexperienced Warriors went down 10-14 in their final pool game against the Dragons.

The Kiwis' test halfback is no stranger to playing with injury and admits he may have taken the field if it was an important NRL game vital to the Warriors' playoff hopes.

"With different circumstances maybe, but definitely at this point of the year, I didn't feel I could go out there and deliver a performance I would be happy with, carrying that injury," Johnson told Newstalk ZB.

"I wanted to be out there as much as I could but at the same time I have to listen to our club staff."

Johnson is not expected to be out of action for long and remains a chance of playing in the Warriors' upcoming NRL trial games.

New head coach Stephen Kearney will take the reins for Saturday's trial against Melbourne Storm on the Sunshine Coast, before they take on the Gold Coast Titans at Palmerston North on February 19.

"It was in the club's best interests that he didn't play," explained Warriors Nines coach Steve McNamara.

"I don't think it's serious. Hopefully he'll be OK for trial one next week if not definitely trial two the week after."

Other senior players not involved in the Nines, including new captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and former skipper Simon Mannering, are also expected to get their first run among an extended squad against the Storm.

"We want to see most of our players in action next week.

"We'll give some game time to our senior players without a doubt and then even more the week after, so we're gradually building them into round one."

The Warriors open their NRL season against Newcastle at Mt Smart Stadium on March 5.

- NZ Herald

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