Warriors halfback prodigy Shaun Johnson has literally had a painful battle through the dreaded Second Season Syndrome (SSS).

SSS is what players face when other teams work them out, they lose form or suffer an injury.

The 19-year-old was touted as a potential first-grader at the start of the season, after strong pre-season trials. However, an ankle injury forced him out for six rounds of the Toyota Cup under-20 competition after the third week.

Not only did Johnson need physical rehabilitation he also needed to work on his mental strength.

"The ankle was fine after six weeks but I kept thinking it was going to get hurt again.

"Having been through all the build-up of the pre-season, I've learnt a whole new side to my footy. It was my first major injury after playing every game last year.

"I said at the start of the season that I should be one of best halfbacks running around, especially after my off-season with the first graders. It was disappointing after I'd done the hard work.

"Then you end up going into the gym early in the morning, staying late and struggling through all those little extras to get yourself right quicker."

Johnson also faced the difficulty of fitting back into a successful Junior Warriors line-up. The team is fifth and looks play-offs bound with four rounds remaining.

"I like to be the dominant half and last year I was probably allowed more freedom, but that was part of the game plan structure," Johnson says. "This year we've had a couple of other recognised halves in Zensei Inu and Carlos Tuimavave so I had my work cut out."

Warriors first grade coach Ivan Cleary sees Johnson as a future prospect.

The club has had an injury crisis in the halves but Isaac John is the next logical selection after James Maloney and Brett Seymour.

"We found Shaun wasn't quite ready for the step up," Cleary says. "He played well in all our trial games but only for about 30 minutes at a time. It took him a while to come back from injuries and I think he might have struggled on the back of public expectation.

"He has come out the other end in the last month or so. I think he'll look back on this as a real learning curve. It also took him some time to adjust from being a top player in the under-20s to going in at the bottom of the NRL squad. He's still young and maturing."

Johnson is not daunted by what's needed to clutch a permanent first grade spot. "I think it's great being able to learn off Brett Seymour and James Maloney's had a successful season. You can't sulk about that, because it's good for the club."