Warriors star Shaun Johnson says he’s learned to be patient as he battles to regain his electric running form of old in his return from serious injury.
Johnson is three NRL games back from a broken left ankle that ended his 2015 season and admitted on Wednesday that he was still rebuilding his confidence.
The 14-Test Kiwi and former Golden Boot winner as world league’s best player has copped flak during the Warriors’ three-loss start to the year.
One criticism has been that the playmaker isn’t running the ball enough.
Johnson, 25, says it’s a case of instinct and making a dart when he feels there’s an opportunity, something he has done all his career.
“Every try I’ve scored, every person I’ve stepped, every linebreak I’ve made, I’ve never thought, okay, I’m going to run now,” Johnson said on Wednesday.
“It’s off the back of instinct and maybe I’m just lacking in a little bit of confidence with that at the moment.”
Johnson traced the dip in confidence to “probably being out of the game for eight months” and the manner of the injury.
It was after a trademark jinking effort against Manly at Mt Smart Stadium last July that Johnson suffered the ankle break, his leg getting jammed in a tackle as he dotted down for a try.
“When I run the ball, I run to break a tackle, I run to do something, so putting myself in that position, getting dragged down from behind – they’re are all things I’m getting through at the moment,” he said.
“I know people don’t show too much sympathy in that area, expect me just to come out and run the ball and do all the magic stuff that I was doing when I got injured, but it just doesn’t happen like that.
“I’ve learnt not to get frustrated with it. I know that part of my game is something that will come back to me.”
Similarly, Johnson believes it’s a matter of time before his combination with Jeff Robson, an off-season arrival from Cronulla, begins to click.
He said it the same with any halves pairing.
“It’s one thing you can’t rush, but I’m certainly enjoying it,” he said.
“He’s is a very calm, experienced player and a really good player to play alongside.”