Michael Burgess speaks to Cronulla Sharks playmaker and former Warrior Shaun Johnson about his plans - and his sympathy for the Warriors' situation - as the NRL gears up for a late May return.
Shaun Johnson has a heartfelt message for his former Warriors teammates as they contemplate moving to Australia to see out the 2020 season.
They don't owe the NRL anything — or the players in other teams — and need to make sure their families are looked after.
The Warriors squad are wrestling with a near-impossible scenario.
They will need to be based across the Tasman for the competition to run, with eight games each week, and to ensure they get paid.
But it will also mean waving goodbye to wives, partners and children and not knowing when they might see them again, or if they'll be able to return in an emergency.
"I'm glad I am not in their shoes right now," Johnson told the Herald . "It is such a massive sacrifice and I wouldn't be doing it unless they have every box ticked that they want ticked.
"[People might say] 'let's do it for the rest of the players, let's do it for the comp' [but] they don't owe anyone anything.
"Obviously they need to earn a living but to leave your family — which is the reason why we do this — and a lot of them have young families ... it's a crazy time. They need to make sure they have everything sorted and don't compromise for anything less."
The Kiwis halfback understands the Warriors' dilemma better than most, having spent eight seasons at Mt Smart. That meant periods away every other week, but the forthcoming scenario is another level.
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"It's pretty obvious we [as players] probably won't get full pay," said Johnson. "But you want to think they are getting something pretty decent for them to come across, and the other teams that might have to relocate.
"I hope they don't feel like they owe anyone anything and it's not just out of a sense of duty. They need to be looking after themselves. Family, to every Kiwi, comes before anything, and I'm sure they will make sure the NRL is doing everything to look after who they will be leaving behind, or who they'll get to bring over."
For his part, Johnson is looking forward to the competition restart, whether it happens in late May, mid-June or a later date.
The sudden suspension of the season after round two was initially difficult to deal with but that has changed over the last fortnight as a return looks more likely.
"I'd definitely be ready and I'd definitely feel comfortable playing it," said Johnson. "If the experts are saying it's safe to play footy, I'll play footy.
"I hope that is still at the forefront; player safety and fan safety has to be at the top of everyone's list when making a decision and as long as that is still the case, then I am comfortable to go."
In any case, Johnson has made the most of life in lockdown in Cronulla. It has meant a lot of extra time with wife Kayla Johnson (nee Cullen), and at an opportune time, as she became pregnant last December.
"That time I have been able to spend with Kayla, going through the early parts of the pregnancy with her and just being able to be there if she has needed me, has been really good."
Johnson trains most days at a park near their home, with a mix of running and kicking drills and says the competitiveness among the Sharks players, plus some tough programmes put together by the club, has kept motivation and standards high among the group.
Covid-19 lockdown conditions in Australia aren't as strict as New Zealand, meaning Johnson was able to enjoy a round of golf with teammate Chad Townsend on Wednesday, while takeaways and cafes also remain open in Sydney.
There's still plenty of uncertainty over what the revised NRL competition will look like, or how it will be structured, but Johnson is relaxed.
"I don't stress or worry about too much outside of what I can control," he said. "I focus on what is directly in front of me. Obviously we would all love for this not to have happened — everyone around the world would have loved that — but I know there are a lot of people in much worse positions than we are.
"It will all sort itself out and play out how it should."