The Warriors are believed to be targeting Parramatta young gun Dylan Brown as a potential long-term replacement for Shaun Johnson.

Brown is yet to play first grade but the New Zealand-born 18-year-old former Australian Schoolboys halfback is one of the Eels brightest prospects and considered an NRL star in the making.

The teenage No 7 is contracted to the Eels until the end of next season but it's believed the Warriors are keen on securing his services for 2020 and beyond.

The Warriors are urgently seeking a new halfback to partner five-eighth Blake Green next season after the club agreed on Wednesday to grant Johnson an immediate release from the final year of his contract.


Johnson last year re-signed with the Warriors on a two year million dollar per season contract but demanded a release after a month of speculation and uncertainty over his long-term playing future at Mt Smart Stadium.

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The former Golden Boot winner was less than impressed after the Herald revealed last month that the Warriors were in no rush to re-sign the enigmatic playmaker beyond next season.

Johnson's future remains up in the air but is believed to be on the verge of agreeing to join Cronulla next season on a one-year deal.

Brown is yet to play first grade but in July debuted for Parramatta's feeder club Wentworthville, making five appearances in the Intrust Super Premiership this season under the tutelage of former Magpies head coach and new Warriors assistant coach Nathan Cayless.

Brent Read, chief rugby league writer at The Australian, last night took to social media, saying sources suggest the Warriors are prepared to throw big money to lure Brown back across the Tasman on a mammoth long-term contract.

While the sort of money Read describes sounds unlikely, as the events over the past few days have proven, anything is possible in rugby league.

[Shaun Johnson speaks out for first time after Warriors exit]


Brown has quickly made a name for himself as a strong defender and organiser and is believed to have been identified by Warriors recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan as a candidate to fill the gap left by Johnson's departure.

Parramatta have recently been trying to offload both of their current halves Mitchell Moses and Corey Norman, shopping the pair around to rival clubs.

Such is the high regard in which Brown's fledgling talent is held, it's understood the Eels are eager to shed either one of their established playmakers to allow them to promote Brown into the NRL side next season.

It's understood Brown left Parramatta's coaching staff stunned earlier this season when he outshone the club's captain Clint Gutherson - the fittest player on the Eels' roster - in conditioning tests.

Whether he is able to fulfill his playmaking potential remains to be seen but the Warriors are understood to be keen on nurturing him through alongside Green who has two years remaining on his current contract.

The Warriors are not placing all their eggs in one basket however and are exploring multiple options, with Cowboys youngster and former Kiwis playmaker Te Maire Martin also believed to be another player of interest.

Te Maire Martin in action for the Cowboys. Photo /Getty
Te Maire Martin in action for the Cowboys. Photo /Getty

The 23-year-old former Penrith No 6 was in talks to join the Warriors last season before he made the move to North Queensland on a three-year deal.

Johnson's release means the Warriors now have plenty of cash to spend on new talent and may search for a short-term cut-price option in the halves, if a big name organiser fails to appear on the market.

If they fail to land anyone suitable, Kearney may ask versatile back Peta Hiku to slot into five-eighth and shift Green into the halfback role, or throw an opportunity to one of the club's youngsters, while looking to bolster their forward pack.