Warriors boss Cameron George has dismissed suggestions the club will go through a rebuilding phase as they search for a new NRL halfback to replace Shaun Johnson next season.

George accepts it is difficult to replace a player of the calibre of Johnson, who a fortnight ago sought a release from the final year of his contract before signing with Cronulla on a three-year deal.

However, he remains confident the Warriors still have the talent in other positions, and believes one of the club's emerging young playmakers will prove themselves capable of helping the Auckland-based outfit make a genuine premiership tilt in 2019.

The cashed-up Warriors have not ruled out buying a new marquee playmaker and are considering various recruitment options, while they continue to assess the credentials of untested halves quartet Hayze Perham, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Adam Keighran and Paul Turner.


"I don't see it as a rebuilding year," George told Radio Sport.

"I never have, never will, throughout this whole process.

"We're only dealing with one position here. Obviously, like for like, it's pretty high-level when you're talking about the Kiwi halfback, but you don't know what can fall out of the tree in terms of recruitment.

No Shaun Johnson, no worries, says Warriors boss. Photo / Photosport
No Shaun Johnson, no worries, says Warriors boss. Photo / Photosport

"But what I can say, is we've got three or four hungry kids looking to make that jumper their own.

"It's not a rebuilding year. We've moved on without Shaun, but we've got quality across the park.

"[We've got] representative wingers, the Dally M fullback, strong centres, Tohu Harris, Adam Blair, [and] Leeson Ah Mau coming. And plus we've got plenty of money in our cap to keep shopping."

Johnson's shock departure came as the club appeared well placed to build on last year's top eight finish, and anything less than a consecutive finals berth will be judged as a failure by many fans and critics.

George denied missing next year's playoffs would spell disaster, arguing the club is not aiming just to make the top eight, but intent on improving on this season's 15-nine win-loss record and still gunning to win a long-awaited maiden title.


"No, I don't think so. This club is progressing really strongly," he said.

"We're excited about 2019. It's [about] how we perform week in, week out, and we're going to be putting in a good effort.

"My expectations for this team, is to prepare and win every game. And if we can do that more often than not, then we'll be there at the business end.

"So you won't get me saying, 'if we don't make the eight it's a failure'. I've never said we would make the eight, I've never said we'll make the six, or four.

"We're out to win it. And if we can win more games than not, we're a big chance of that.

"We've got the players to do it, and if we can add some quality of value to the squad I think we're giving ourselves a big shot at it."