It was Shaun Johnson’s idea to move out one spot in the backline and Warriors coach Andrew McFadden expects his playmaking ace to make the most of a licence to roam in the NRL.
McFadden revealed Kiwis halfback Johnson raised the subject of a position switch in an off-season chat.
The result is his selection at five-eighth for Saturday’s opening-round game against West Tigers in Sydney, lining up outside veteran halfback and Cronulla recruit Jeff Robson.
“Shaun was quite open. He made the suggestion there, we talked about it and decided it was a good move for him,” McFadden said.
“Not having the No.7 on his back sets that sensation that he doesn’t have to really control the game, that’s Jeff Robson’s role, and Shaun is going to be allowed to be free.”
Robson’s shift from the Sharks didn’t garner the headlines of two other Sydney club recruits – Kiwis internationals Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
However, the 33-year-old has the potential to unleash the Warriors’ attacking trump card.
“He’s got full roaming capacity in the game,” McFadden said.
Superstar Johnson likes what Robson brings to the Warriors and is happy to see him do the steering at No.7
“It just felt like a better fit, with who’s my halves partner at the moment. Robbo, he’s probably your classic halfback really. He’s going to get us around the park,” said the Kiwi Test playmaker.
Johnson has fully recovered from the broken ankle which ruled him out of the past six games of last year’s campaign, which were all losses.
He says he’s also shaken off any mental scars from the incident.
“Both physically and mentally are feeling really good. I’d be a bit worried if they weren’t really. It’s been a while,” he said.
The Warriors will attempt to win their opening game of the season for the first time since 2009.