David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

Shaun Johnson excited about new playing partner Ata Hingano

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson is excited at the prospect of developing his combination with young playmaker Ata Hingano but expects the side's playing style to change once Kieran Foran slots into the number six jersey.

Hingano impressed in Sunday's 26-6 trial win over the Gold Coast Titans at Palmerston North and is likely to start at five-eighth in the Warriors NRL season opener against Newcastle on March 5 with Foran unable to play until round three at the earliest.

Hingano is a strong defender and possesses neat footwork with a good turn of speed which he used to make a couple of line-breaks from running in support of the Warriors' big ball carriers.

Johnson is impressed by the 19-year-old's cool head and is confident Hingano's attacking game will broaden as he gets more accustomed to playing with his new teammates.

"I'm excited to see him have a crack," said Johnson.

"He was solid today. I probably do most of the organising out there but I know Ata, he can pull the trigger whenever he wants and I love his style of play.

"His eyes forward mentality and his support play is great and he's got a lot of speed there as well.

"We'll get around him and support him but I just know he wants to do his job."

But while Johnson's experience and senior status currently sees him tasked with guiding the Warriors around the park, he is looking forward to enjoying more freedom once his Kiwis halves partner Foran is cleared to play.

Both are accustomed to the organising role but Johnson anticipates Foran will take greater control of the side, leaving him, together with fullback and captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, to inject themselves wherever they see fit.

Rather than remain locked into his traditional right-side position, Johnson expects coach Stephen Kearney will allow him greater license to roam and is looking forward to playing both sides of the field.

Foran has proven himself as one of the game NRL's best first receivers with both Manly and Parramatta and also at international level, and his tough and direct approach will work to straighten the Warriors attack.

"My position within the group now, I just sort of do it (organising) naturally and so does Foz," said Johnson.

"But definitely with Foz there it changes a lot of things. He'll play on-ball a lot, is the best way to describe it, and allow me and Roger to both just swing out the back of both sides and have our eyes forward and take the best option.

"At the moment, I'm sort of playing on-ball a bit, playing out the back, doing a bit of both.

"Right now we're adjusting to what we've got. We're trying to make it work, we're just learning, and we'll do that come the first few rounds of the season with Ata there."

Johnson says Foran is eagerly awaiting his chance to return to the field against the Bulldogs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on March 17, pending a further psychological assessment by the NRL.

"Foz is in a great headspace. He knows he's got a target to hit to get back on the paddock.

"We're here to keep him focussed and I know he's really excited by that so I'm sure he'll stay on top of everything."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 30 May 2017 02:13:06 Processing Time: 851ms