Warriors' coach Stephen Kearney is unconcerned about potential goal kicking issues at the club in 2019.

The departure of Shaun Johnson has left a significant vacuum at Mt Smart Stadium for a team that already wasn't flush with options for gaining the extra points.

After taking over from James Maloney at the start of the 2013 season, Johnson kicked 326 goals for the Warriors, at a strike rate of just under 75 per cent.

The club has also lost Mason Lino, who managed a 76.19 per cent of his attempts across 17 matches as a back up half.


Their absence, particularly Johnson, prompted one Australian media outlet last week to rate the Warriors as the worst positioned club in terms of goal kicking heading into 2019.

However, Kearney is adamant that club has enough options heading into their 25th season.

"There's a handful of kickers," Kearney told the Herald. "Adam Keighran is a pretty accomplished goal kicker. Bully [Issac Luke] is a kicker, and he's pretty accomplished. Gerard Beale has been doing some practice at goal kicking. Chanel [Harris-Tavita] has also been doing some kicking."

Kearney has nominated Keighran as the leading contender to take Johnson's place from the tee, partly because of his work with renowned kicking coach Daryl Halligan over the last few seasons.

The 21-year-old former Australian Schoolboys representative has yet to play an NRL game, but demonstrated his prowess with the boot in reserve grade last year, landing 81 goals in 23 matches for the Panthers ISP team.

"Issac has kicked pretty well at NRL level too but Adam is probably the pick of them at the moment," said Kearney. "He has done a fair bit of work with Daryl [Halligan] at his previous clubs. Daryl has a fair rap on him in terms of goal kicking."

Adam Keighran joined the Warriors from Penrith during the off season. Photo / Getty
Adam Keighran joined the Warriors from Penrith during the off season. Photo / Getty

Luke is the most experienced kicker at the club. He had nine years as the back-up option at the Rabbitohs (68.37 per cent), and has managed 46 from 59 attempts (78 per cent) during his time in Auckland.

However, he only kicked in one game last season and his demanding work rate at No9 makes it hard to balance the demands of the kicking role.

Junior Kiwi Harris-Tavita kicked at 65 per cent in reserve grade last season throughout the 2018 season but is untested at NRL level. Tohu Harris was an occasional kicker during his time in Melbourne (eight goals from 12 attempts) but isn't considered a long term option.

Keighran will get his first chance to impress in Warriors colours on Friday evening, as they take on the Melbourne Storm in a trial in Geelong.

He'll be in charge of a raw looking backline, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ken Maumalo, David Fusitu'a and Beale among many regulars set to return for the second trial in Whangarei next Saturday.

In the pack a lot of interest will centre on Nathaniel Roache, making his return after a wretched injury run. The 22-year-old played just nine games in 2017 due to an ruptured Achilles, then missed the whole of the 2018 season after a lumbar disc injury last March.

"I know he is probably a little bit nervous no doubt but he was adamant a couple of weeks ago he wanted to give himself an opportunity to participate in trial one," said Kearney.

"He's had a tough old run over the last 12-18 months. He has probably got a little bit of doubt in his head and it will do him the world of good to get out there and get through 20 minutes or half an hour."