COMMENT

If Shaun Johnson wanted to prove a point on this England tour, he hasn't done it yet.

Johnson had another mixed game in the Kiwis 20-14 loss on Monday morning, failing to reach any great heights.

He then avoided all media after the match, as he has done during the entire trip.

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Johnson was solid, especially in the first half, but New Zealand needed much more than that from their senior half and chief playmaker.

It was all a bit vanilla from the 28-year-old, as he failed to exert a strong influence on the match.

Johnson wasn't helped by the chaos all around him, as the Kiwis made seven errors in the second half alone, mostly at their own end, but he still needed to stamp his mark on the game.

He is the second most capped player in this New Zealand team – behind Adam Blair – and has plenty of greenhorns in the back line beside him, including Joseph Manu, Esan Marsters and Ken Maumalo.

But his showing didn't reflect that experience, and English halves George Williams and Sam Tomkins again shaded their Kiwi opposites.

Johnson looks a man under pressure.

That's not surprising, given the usual spotlight on him has increased immensely over the course of this tour, since the revelations two weeks ago that the Warriors have told his management to 'test his value' with other clubs.

He may yet stay at the Auckland club, but the constant speculation has thrown some doubt over his future.

The Kiwis are protecting him; he hasn't been available to media at all in the last two weeks and turned down interview requests as he walked through the mixed zone after the game on Monday morning (NZT).

But whatever is happening in his head, it appears to have affected his game.

At Anfield, Johnson looked like someone determined not to make a mistake, which is understandable, given his errors tend to get highlighted, and test matches can fall on fine margins.

But there was none of the natural exuberance or confidence, allied with the ability to back himself.

Nobody expects too much razzle-dazzle, especially in this kind of test match, played at close quarters on a compact ground.

But, with one of the best running games in the sport, he had to test the line, to commit tacklers and try and create doubt in their minds.

But he didn't.

Instead, Johnson was mostly content to run lateral and before shovelling the pass sideways.

Both Kiwis tries were created by his halves partner Kodi Nikorima, with the second a wonderful piece of quick thinking to put Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in the clear, before the captain expertly sent away Ken Maumalo.

Johnson was also, along with the rest of the right edge, caught out defensively as England wreaked havoc down that side of the field.

He wasn't the only one, but he was drawn in badly for the first two England tries, and those misreads allowed space on the outside.

Johnson was superb just a few weeks ago at Mt Smart, in the memorable victory over the Kangaroos.

But he's gone off the boil since then, which probably leaves more questions than answers about his future.