New Cronulla playmaker Shaun Johnson has declined the chance to hit back at the Warriors following his bitter exit from the Auckland-based NRL club.

The new Sharks signing refused to take the bait when asked how he felt after Warriors CEO Cameron George took aim at the Kiwi international last week following news the club had released Johnson from the final year of his contract.

After announcing both parties would go their separate ways, George alluded to Johnson's inconsistent form as one of the main reasons why the Warriors had held off on offering him a contract extension beyond 2019.

But Johnson, speaking to Sydney media for the first time since inking a three-year deal with Cronulla last week, said he only had fond memories of his time at Mt Smart Stadium and is looking forward to making himself at home in the Sutherland Shire.

Shaun Johnson speaks to media. Photo / Getty
Shaun Johnson speaks to media. Photo / Getty

"They can say what they want. Both parties are happy with how it ended and I've got nothing bad to say about the club," said Johnson.

"I had eight years there where I got to live out a dream I'd had since I was a kid.

"It was a bit of an emotional time but all I'm looking forward to is coming over here and just playing some good footy for the Sharks and immersing myself in the community, and getting out and seeing some kids.

"I've already had people drive past and throw out the shaka's to me so it's all really exciting now."

In the lead up to his split with the Warriors, the former Golden Boot winner stirred controversy after taking to social media to let fans know he was taking the opportunity to "spread my wings" after the club had publically announced in October that he was free to test his value on the open market.

Johnson justified his Facebook post from November 26, which came a day before he demanded a release from the Warriors, and his subsequent release last Wednesday.

Afternoon team! After reading through a few of your comments on my last post I thought its best I clear a couple things...

Posted by Shaun Johnson on Sunday, 25 November 2018

"I just saw what was being said, and I know sometimes in the media things can get twisted a little bit, so I just said, 'well, I'll put it out in my own words and people can take it however they want'", he said.

"I was just saying it from my side what was actually happening from my point of view."

After eight years at the Warriors, the 162-game veteran admitted it will feel strange to line up against his good friends and former teammates when the Sharks take on his old team next season.


The Warriors will host Cronulla in round 18, but Johnson will be denied a homecoming appearance with the match being held at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on July 19, before the two sides meet again five weeks later at Shark Park on August 24.

"It's going to be weird. I think a lot of people expect me to give the answer where you say 'it'll be fine', but no, it's going to be weird as.

"I've got some good mates there, some boys that I've seen develop into full-blooded first graders that you're around every day for a long time, so it's going to be really weird.

"But at the same time I know they're going to be feeling the same, so they'll be getting stuck into me and I'll be giving just as much back and it will be a good game of footy to watch I think."

Johnson today made an appearance at Sharks training and is taking a couple of days to organise things with his new club, but will return to New Zealand for Christmas before relocating to Sydney in the New Year.

His close friendship with Sharks halfback and former Warriors teammate Chad Townsend, and the attraction of slotting into one of the NRL's heavyweight sides were factors in him deciding to join the 2016 premiers.

Coach Shane Flanagan is expected to move the versatile Matt Moylan from five-eighth back to fullback to allow Johnson to fill the No 6 role, and Johnson is looking forward to adding some flair to the Sharks rugged style.

"From afar, I've always really admired how tough they are. They're tough and they like to throw the footy around and so I think I can add value there.

"I really enjoyed my time playing with Chad, so he was another big reason why I wanted to head down this way."

After training and playing at Penrose base since his days in the Warriors Under 20s side, Cronulla's sun-drenched beachside lifestyle also holds plenty of appeal for the Orewa-raised Hibiscus Coast Raiders junior.

"I didn't know too much about Cronulla, and then get here and see the style of living, the beach and good weather, it's all pretty exciting."