Winning for the ages needs to meet for the ages and a delighted Sean Johnson provided just that for New Zealand’s rising warriors.
The only NRL club from around the ditch saved the icon by making huge sacrifices during the Covid pandemic, isolating themselves from family and friends as the club settled in Australia.
League officials have not given the team any credit for scheduling, with only one of the club’s first six matches of 2023 to be played in New Zealand.
But the Warriors defied expectations by winning four of their opening five matches to finish second on the Premier League ladder.
That includes the classic try out of jail against Cronulla on Sunday that saw the Warriors rally from 20-0 to win 32-30 off a Johnson boot.
The veteran halfback is back at the Warriors after being cut by the Sharks in favor of Necho Hines and seems to love life in his home country.
When Fox Sports’ Jake Duke gathered him for a post-game interview, Johnson gave one of the greatest football interviews of all time — though the linebacker left to congratulate his teammates several times.
“It was off-the-head, off-the-head, we talked about it in the first half, do we really think we can go out and do that?” Johnson said.
“We said some funny stories at halftime, bro, we were like, ‘What a story that’s going to be, we’re going to tell the grandkids about this one day, lads, just go out and get a crack’.”
I just thought we’re, man, we’re so resilient, I love being a part of it and that feels good.
“Obviously there’s a lot to like, a lot to dislike, but at the end of the day, when you come here, they’re a good side, bro, they’re a good side and what a feeling.”
A jubilant Johnson had no filter when he was interviewed after winning a Warriors game against the Cronulla Sharks
Johnson regularly interrupted the interview to celebrate with colleagues and officials who wanted to congratulate him
While Johnson said it feels great to win against the club he cut, he said there was no malice.
In fact, he said his time under former Cronulla coach John Morris has prepared him for a big moment on Sunday.
“You know what’s funny, that’s exactly what I was thinking, we used to do pre-season here, John Morris would get me goals at the end of a solid training session,” Johnson explained.
He’d say “If you get it, the boys are done for the day” and he’d have me push them off the sidelines while all the boys watched me.
“It actually took me back to that moment, I’ve scored a lot of goals here so to score in the last minutes, what a feeling.”
Johnson takes the winning penalty for the New Zealand Warriors after the club trailed 20-0 earlier in the competition
Johnson mobs at the team to congratulate him on his heroics after the Warriors appeared dead and buried in their Round 4 NRL game against Cronulla
Warriors fans love their revamped halfback.
I can’t remember ever seeing him in this life I’ve loved for so long. Great signs for warriors, someone wrote.
Another said, “When he was smiling after he scored that try was over, he’s the new smiling killer.”
“Hmm, the list of NRL players I’d like to have a beer with,” admitted one overjoyed fan.
“Faith, resilience and confidence in your teammates, that’s what I saw today, great game. The boys are getting more confident with every game. Proud supporters today,” added another.