OPINION

Shaun Johnson's two-year deal with the Warriors will be the first piece of the puzzle to slot into place as the club puts together a roster for 2018.

It was a no-brainer for the Warriors to re-sign their franchise player but quite a coup that Johnson opted to remain in Auckland rather than move to an Australian club that not only had the cap space to sign the former Golden Boot winner but also the roster to win a premiership.

By staying with the Warriors he gives the club brass a chance to continue working with the nucleus of a roster that could win a premiership in the next two or three seasons. Had Johnson chased a title sooner the Warriors would have been left blowing up their current roster and starting again.

In Johnson, hooker Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck they possess the bulk of a really top spine regardless of whether five-eighth Kieran Foran opts to move closer to his kids in the coming weeks.

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Add to that mix work-horse back-rower Simon Mannering, impressive second-rower Tohu Harris and back-line stars David Fusitua and Solomone Kata.

The Warriors now turn their attention to who will partner Johnson in the halves next year.

Not only is Foran off-contract but so are youngsters Ata Hingano and Mason Lino. Neither are ready to start with the forward pack the Warriors are likely to run out next season so that means the club will look seriously at the remaining available halves.

It is a near-certainty that Johnathan Thurston and Anthony Milford will remain with the Cowboys and Broncos respectively - the two big name free agents left. It is likely that Moses Mbye (Bulldogs) and Trent Hodkinson (Knights) could be made available and the Warriors will consider the merits of both players.

If they can't attract one of those two players then look for them to go with youth at that point although signing an Australian youngster who is closer to first grade ready is a chance.

The next focus beyond the halves partner for Johnson will be signing a number of props.

All of the Warriors existing props - James Gavet, Albert Vete, Charlie Gubb, Jacob Lillyman and Toa Sipley are off-contract at the end of the year while Ben Matulino has signed with the Tigers. Only Sam Lisone remains contracted beyond next year. That means the Warriors need to sign four or five players to feature up front - some from their off-contract group but they will certainly look to bring one or two in from outside.

The Warriors would also look to maybe add another back-rower - Gold Coast's Leivaha Pulu has been rumoured - as well as an outside back or two.

The Warriors have plenty of cap space to play with although they do need to spend that across a number of players. They could add to that amount by releasing Tui Lolohea should he want to move on or if veteran winger Manu Vatuvei was to retire. The big winger has been named in an enlarged squad for this weekend's clash with the Roosters after recovering from a knee injury.