To those of us with only a passing knowledge of rugby, the revelation of the Telstra 2018 NRL competition has been the New Zealand Warriors.
They started off a fire and have kept things going to an extent remarkable, given the recent past history of the club. They currently hold the fourth spot of the 16-team ladder and they have accumulated 18 premiership points, just two behind the St. George Illawarra Dragons and the Penrith Panthers.
What they have done is find a way to win, despite having a negative point differential.
They will be further buoyed by the return of Shaun Johnson.
The star halfback will be on when the Manly Sea Eagles come to Christchurch in a few days’ time.
Johnson was hurt in the ankle late in the Warriors’ round nine win over Wests Tigers. It would seem a case of impeccable timing, as the Sea Eagles occupy 13th place in this year’s competition, so even if Johnson is not 100 percent, he can spell when necessary.
For the Warriors, this is the first time since the club has had more wins than losses at the halfway point since 2011, but they are showing some signs that the return of Johnson is critical, as they have not posted consecutive wins since round five.
It is doubtful that Johnson’s presence for the 30 – 10 loss to the South Sydney Rabbitohs, but that is idle speculation only on our part.
The game will mark the 150-game milestone for Johnson.
The Sea Eagles lost last time out to the NQ Cowboys, but they were without the Turbo brothers, as the pair are off for Blues duty in Origin 1. They will be back in New Zealand for the game with the Eagles, but it is expected that they will only play back-up roles after laying it all on the line in the attempt to beat the Maroons later today.