Shaun Johnson already feeling love at Cronulla Sharks

“The boys could be on here.”

With that text message, Shaun Johnson was reunited with Chad Townsend at Cronulla.

Johnson fronted the media at Sharks Leagues Club on Thursday for the first time since signing his three-year deal with Cronulla.

The 28-year-old New Zealand international dismissed reported interest from the Sydney Roosters and Parramatta to sign with the Sharks.

It is likely he will form a halves pairing with Townsend, who Johnson played with at the Warriors. The pair struck up a firm friendship in New Zealand. Johnson has already made a tongue-in-cheek reference to Townsend not wanting his former Warriors teammate to arrive in the shire for fear Johnson would better the Sharks No.7 on the golf course.

As well as text messages from Townsend there has been phone calls from Wade Graham, lifts to the club with Andrew Fifita and tours of the shire from the club's staff.

That sort of care and attention has Johnson feeling the love after his acrimonious split with the Warriors.

“Obviously playing with Chad a few years back, I really enjoyed my time playing with Chad. So he was another big reason why I wanted to head down this way,” he said. 

“I didn’t know too much about Cronulla. You get here and you see the style of living, the beach, the good weather it’s all pretty exciting.

“A few of them reached out and just said ‘how are you going? We’d love to have you’ type thing.

“But nothing too crazy. I think Chad just sent me a message saying ‘braaaaa’. So no one put any pressure on me. I had a good chat to Wade [Graham]. He said ‘look we’d love to have you but if not, all the best for wherever you choose to go’.

“Little things like that. It probably doesn’t sound like much but to a player coming into a new environment it’s good to know that the boys actually want you there.”

Johnson spoke glowingly about his new club and their on-field experience. He is yet to win a premiership but believes his mercurial talents could help the Sharks win a second title in four seasons despite reeling from the loss of Valentine Holmes.

“I’m still in awe of the experience the Cronulla Sharks have among their playing group. I was thinking about the leadership group and you’re like who do you actually put in it? You’ve got so many players that have played so many big games for their country, for teams, Origins, grand finals, whatever it is,” he said. 

“Talking to them over the last few days the message is everyone just contributes which is really exciting so I’ll just be looking to do the same.

“From afar I’ve always admired how tough they are. They’re a tough side. And then with the footy, the style of footy they play too… they like to throw the footy around. I think I can add value there.”