General Shaun Johnson was going to Play AFL!!


Interesting.. Hope they dont try & do a Kharmichal Hunt on the Warriors

Warriors whiz kid Shaun Johnson was nearly lost to AFL when he attracted the interest of scouts in 2006.

Tagged the next Benji Marshall, rookie halfback Johnson will attempt to steer the Warriors to their first premiership when he goes head-to-head with Manly sensation Daly Cherry-Evans in the grand final.

But the 21-year-old, one of New Zealand sport's hottest prospects, could easily be starring for Sydney Swans.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal Johnson played Australian rules at 16 and appeared on the AFL's radar when he was named New Zealand's best player in 2006 at an international youth tournament named after the legendary Ron Barassi.

Speaking from the Johnson family home in Whangaparaoa, New Zealand, his dad said: "Shaun really liked the game. Playing in the AFL was a definite option for him.

"He was named the most promising player of that tournament and we were told by the other coaches at the carnival if any of the Kiwi kids would make it professionally (in the AFL), it would be Shaun.

"We actually went on a tour of the Sydney Swans headquarters.

"We met their heavy hitters and went through their gymnasium with the New Zealand under-16 team.

"In the end, we thought unless we moved to Aussie, an AFL career wasn't going to happen for him.

"Then the Warriors showed interest, which meant Shaun could stay at home."

While Johnson has received rave reviews for his attacking skills, his brief stint in Australian rules proved just as beneficial.

The boom playmaker honed his kicking game at Orewa College under his coach Craig Ashton, who played Australian football and has since been employed by the Warriors as kicking coach.

It has been a remarkable ride to the grand final for Johnson. Just months ago he was battling a back injury as the Warriors experimented with their halves combinations.

The quick-stepping No. 7 did not get his chance until round 13, but has been so composed coach Ivan Cleary could not resist his game-breaking brilliance.

"The start of the season and was fairly frustrating," Johnson said. "It's every kid's dream to play NRL and at the time I wanted to do so, but I've had a taste of it now and I can safely say I probably wasn't ready."

Much has been made of his battle with Cherry-Evans, but Johnson is more concerned with breaking the Warriors' 16-year premiership drought.

"I know the sort of player Daly is but it's not really me against him," he said. "We're confident in our ability. We haven't won a grand final but as long as we keep our heads down and do the best we can, we'll be OK."


it's played up a bit... matt duffie went on one of those draft camps too, they invite kids every year. they're more trying to grow the game here then poach players.


no wonder hes such a good kicker...the best thing aussie rules does for a person is teach you how to take a good high mark and to be able to kick short and long distances acurately..
this is interesting news when jimmys puts up bombs he{johnson} should be going for them as well as inu ,jezza style ....up there cazaly!!


Watch the AFL either try to poach him or take credit for his success in the next 1-3


Probably something for another thread, but when I was in primary school in Qld, the Afl was pushing massively. They even had a whole day every year for kids participating in an Afl skills program while everyone else was at school.