Shaun Johnson is the Warriors' first million-dollar man.

The Kiwis halfback signed a new two-year contract yesterday, after months of speculation about hisleague future.

Salaries are always closely guarded secrets in the NRL - unlike most American sports - but the Weekend Herald understands Johnson's deal is worth in excess of seven figures per year.

It makes him the highest-earning player in the club's history, and the first to crack the $1m barrier.

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Sam Tomkins was the only other player that came close.

The Englishman was on a huge deal when he came from Wigan in 2013, including a staggering $1.2m transfer fee.

Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck also signed for big money in 2015, while Simon Mannering's remuneration reflects 12 years of outstanding service to the Penrose club.

Johnson's deal underlines his status as one of the marquee players in the sport, and puts him among the top 10 earners across the competition.

It also reflects a market trend; top-level halves are like gold dust in the NRL, and the days of paying $500,000 for an experienced half are long gone.

Especially with the impending increase in the salary cap, which could be as much as A$9m ($9.78m) next year (the 2017 cap is A$7m ($7.6m).

ROTORUA DAILY POST | Sport
29 Apr, 2017 2:00pm
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It's a good deal for Johnson, who was helped by the doubt over Kieran Foran's future, as the club came to the decision they could not afford to be without both halves in 2018.

But it's not just about the dollars. Johnson could have earned more in Australia, especially as he was being pursued by some of the biggest clubs in the NRL.

But a sense of unfinished business was the clincher for Johnson in deciding to stay at the club he has been with since 2009.

"A few things went through my mind but the one that stood out to me was not being satisfied if I did leave at this time," said Johnson.

"The thought of winning [the NRL premiership] elsewhere - it doesn't really sit right with me at the moment - and the thought of winning here means the world to me. And that is what I want to strive to do."

Johnson admitted the decision had been difficult, and for the first time in his career he had seriously contemplated wearing another jersey.

"It got to a point where I thought it never would in terms of looking at another club and leaving," said Johnson. "It wasn't like I knew all along I was going to stay. I had to be open to the possibility of leaving."

Johnson is confident the club is heading in the right direction, although he has said those words after his last two contract renewals. But he hopes there won't be the same angst in 2019, at the end of this contract.

"[It will be] enough time to see where this club is heading," explained Johnson.

"[The] new coaching staff would have found their feet by then and moulded this club into what they want. I'm surrounded by people that share the same passion as me and that want to see this club succeed. I'm looking forward to being part of that and I know we will."

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson