Townsend to take on Warriors’ NRL load

Chad Townsend is vowing to take on a bigger role for the Warriors with the NRL club losing playmaker Shaun Johnson to a season-ending injury.

Johnson broke his ankle in last week’s defeat to Manly, forcing the untried Tuimoala Lolohea into the No.7 jersey for Saturday’s match against Cronulla at Mt Smart Stadium.

Five-eighth Townsend, who will join the Sharks next year, says it is up to him to step up to the challenge.

“I’ve got a bit more experience than Tui so I’ll probably be the dominant half, and I’ll make a lot of the calls.

“I don’t expect him to step up and be Shaun Johnson, because that’s just not going to happen,” the 24-year-old said.

Lolohea stepped into the halfback role when Johnson was forced from the field against the Sea Eagles and Townsend sees similarities in the pair.

“They’ve both got speed, fancy footwork, so I’m excited to play with Tui. He’s the future of this club.”

He’s backing the 21-year-old utility, who has already played at fullback, centre and wing this season, to make his mark as a playmaker, with a little help.

“I’ll guide him along where I can, and offer him some advice.

“He’s a confident kid … he feels most confident at half and we’ve definitely got confidence in him to do the job this weekend.

“To lose the golden boot in any team is a massive loss, and we’re not playing that down, but we’ve got confidence in guys that can come in and do the job.

“We’ll be looking to everyone to step up this weekend and for the rest of the year.”

After two heavy defeats, the Warriors are clinging to a place in the top eight and Townsend says they need to arrest the slide if they harbour playoff hopes.

“Defensively, the last two weeks have been pretty disappointing for us.

“To let in 24 and 32 points, two weeks in a row, is just not good enough and that’s an area where we need to improve for the rest of the season.”

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