UPDATED: Star Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson will miss the club’s qualifying final against the Panthers, after confirmation he’s succumbed to a calf injury.
“I’m not playing … We’ve come here to win a game and we’re going to do that regardless,” Johnson told media on Thursday.
“We’ve got players that can step in, we’ve done it all year, we’ve filled a role and that’s why we’re here.”
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Warriors coach Andrew Webster said the injury was too risky for a qualifying final.
“He hurt his calf, we thought he was going to be OK, he trained yesterday and it just pulled up too sore,” Webster told 9News Sydney.
“Any finals game’s important but when it’s a soft-tissue injury you’ve got to make sure you’re careful, so we just can’t risk it.”
Dylan Walker shapes as the likely man to come in and partner Te Maire Martin in the halves.
Johnson was among a host of Warriors stars rested for the last round of the regular season because Andrew Webster’s men had already locked up a top-four berth.
The 32-year-old boarded the team flight bound for Sydney on Thursday, ahead of the Warriors’ clash with Penrith at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday night.
Johnson’s injury has rattled the Warriors as they zero in on their first finals appearance since 2018 and the club’s most important game since the 2011 NRL grand final.
Stream the NRL premiership 2023 live and free on 9Now
Johnson suffered an Achilles tear when he was playing for the Sharks, which contributed to a major form slump, but has reinvigorated his career since returning to the Warriors ahead of the 2022 season.
He’s carved out a superb 2023 campaign that resulted in him claiming the club’s highest individual honour, the Simon Mannering Medal for player of the year, as well as the players’ player of the year award.
Johnson and Warriors legend Stacey Jones are the only halfbacks who’ve won the club’s top individual honour.