Coach‘s simple message motivates Johnson

Recalled Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson says he‘s not chasing redemption in this weekend‘s second rugby league Test against Great Britain in Christchurch.

Shaun Johnson Photo: Photosport

Johnson was dropped after New Zealand‘s 26-4 loss to Australia last month, and replaced by Kieran Foran in his first appearance for the Kiwis since May 2017.

However, Foran dislocated his shoulder six minutes into the first Test against Great Britain at Eden Park, paving the way for Johnson‘s return in Christchurch.

The 29-year-old standoff says he knows his performance against Australia wasn‘t good enough, and the message from coach Michael Maguire had been simple.

“The main one is don‘t play shit and you stay in the team – it‘s pretty simple, really,” Johnson said.

“We‘ve got certain standards around our footy side and I didn‘t meet those in the Australian game. I understood that, came out and worked hard last week.”

Johnson said Foran‘s injury had hit the team hard.

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“It‘s a massive blow for Foz, and the Kiwis as well – I was gutted for him.

“Seeing the journey he‘s been on, the amount of resilience he‘s shown to get himself in a position to represent our country again.

“But I‘m confident he‘s going to bounce back.”

Johnson says the New Zealanders are focused on producing an improved performance from their 12-8 win over the Lions in Auckland last Sunday.

“It was a dog fight, and coming off how we played against Australia, it probably couldn‘t have been any better for us to have a win like that – just a real gritty win.”

Johnson said that, apart from skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck‘s “freakish” effort in setting up the Kiwis‘ only try, there had been no flash or brilliance in the win.

“It was just tough moments, and that‘s what ended up getting us the result.

“We know they‘re going to be desperate this weekend so they‘ll be ready to go, but it‘s important for us to finish the year off well.”

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