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Johnson dazzles on Four Nations stage

Posted on 01/31/2019 | in 深圳桑拿网 | by

Australian rival Cooper Cronk has praised Shaun Johnson’s improvement after the quicksilver Kiwi stamped himself as a leading contender for world’s most exciting rugby league player.

深圳桑拿网

Johnson was consistently good and often brilliant throughout the Four Nations tournament and he saved his best for last with a dazzling display in New Zealand’s 22-18 win over world champions Australia in Saturday night’s final.

Behind a dominant pack, 24-year-old Johnson and his halves partner Kieran Foran outpointed Cronk and Daly Cherry-Evans.

Johnson, the player of the series, produced two moments of sheer brilliance in the decider.

He eluded a clutch of desperate tacklers with a twisting, twinkle-toed run and bullet-like cut-out pass for Manu Vatuvei’s first-half try.

And he had Kiwi fans in raptures with his dummy then a swerving run past Kangaroos fullback Greg Inglis for a super solo try on the hour mark.

In such form, Johnson, with 83 first-grade games under his belt, can be expected to hit the ground running in 2015 and spearhead the Warriors’ challenge for a maiden NRL title.

Cronk said Johnson, also man of the match in the final, had come of age during the Four Nations, though he noted the assistance from the Kiwis’ forward power.

“It’s a strength of his, when he is behind a pack going forward he is pretty hard to stop,” Cronk said.

“He was very good for them tonight and over the last month.

“…He has come on as a player – you saw that out there.”

Johnson gave credit to Kiwis coach Steve Kearney and his teammates, saying there was increasing confidence among the youthful Kiwi outfit in their approach to the game.

“He (Kearney) has done a really good job of making the group really comfortable to offload, and just play what we feel,” he said.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re at our best when we’re doing that.”

Johnson said the Kiwis still played with structure, but Kearney encouraged his players to seize opportunities if they presented.

“A lot of tries we’ve scored throughout the tournament have been off that.

“They haven’t been full on, structured set plays – they’ve just been ad lib.

“You just need to get the ball sometimes in half a space, which some of the boys have got, and they can finish.”

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