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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
Kiwi star Shaun Johnson has today signed a three-year contract with the Cronulla Sharks.
Johnson was in the Sutherland Shire today, where he accepted the new deal, with the New Zealand playmaker to represent the Cronulla club through until the end of the 2021 season.
A player with a career highlighted by 29 Tests for New Zealand and 162 NRL games for the Warriors, the signing of Johnson is a major coup for the Sharks, with the 28-year-old set to add x-factor and attacking flair to Cronulla's backline from next season.
After being given a whirlwind tour of Cronulla and the local area, Johnson met with Sharks coach Shane Flanagan and Football CEO Barry Russell, before finalising and accepting the deal.
Johnson will fly home to New Zealand today, return to meet the playing group in the next week, before reporting to Sharks pre-season training during the first week of the New Year.
On signing his contract and committing to the Sharks, Johnson expressed his excitement about playing in blue, black and white for the next three years.
"It's been a crazy few weeks but it's good to lock it all away. I can't wait to get over here and to rip in. It's really exciting," Johnson said. "I want to add value where I can. The Sharks are a tough side, they know how to win and that's what I'm excited to be a part of."
Understandably, Flanagan was also thrilled to be adding a player of Johnson's calibre to his NRL squad next year.
"To recruit a current Test half at this time of year is a massive boost to our club, the playing group our members and fans," Flanagan stated.
"Shaun's football talent is going to be a huge plus for our team and his experience will undoubtedly help with the development of our younger players.
"Players like Jayden (Brailey), Kyle (Flanagan) and Blayke (Brailey) are some who can only benefit from having Shaun in our team.
"And added to all of that, he has outstanding character, has done some great work in the community in New Zealand and he will also be an asset to the club off the field as well," Flanagan added.
Meanwhile Russell welcomed the good news and had no doubt the signing of Johnson would be embraced by Sharks members and fans.
"The signing of one of the world's best halves should be celebrated," Russell said. "Shaun accepting our offer is an endorsement of our team and the football program we have here. He will add a tremendous amount to our squad next season.
"He is one of the most electrifying players on the world stage, I'm really looking forward to seeing him play for the Sharks and I hope our members and fans are as excited as I am about the prospect of Shaun representing the Cronulla club."
Signed at the Warriors in 2009, Johnson began his NRL career in 2011, where he has since gone on to play eight seasons in the NRL, while being a regular on the international stage representing New Zealand.
A proven try scorer as well as competent goal kicker, Johnson has crossed the line for 63 tries in his 162 matches, while also kicking 326 goals and 13 field goals.
In joining the Sharks, Johnson is likely to slot into the five eighth role in rekindling an association with halves partner Chad Townsend, with the pair enjoying two seasons together at the Warriors in 2014-15.
The Sharks now have the option of playing Johnson, Townsend, youngster Kyle Flanagan and the versatile Matt Moylan in the halves in giving them plenty of playmaking depth next season.
The first interview with Shaun Johnson is now playing in the video above.
Born - September 9, 1990, Auckland
Height - 179cm
Weight - 91kgs
Junior Club - Hibiscus Coast Raiders
NRL Games - 2011-2018 - 162 games, 63 tries, 326 goals, 13 field goals, 917 points
International - 2012-2018 - 29 Tests for NZ
NRL Debut - Warriors v Roosters, SFS, Round 13, 201