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Johnson getting NRL timing right: Elliott

Shaun Johnson is coming of age in the eyes of Warriors coach Matthew Elliott - because of his decreasing workload.
Johnson getting NRL timing right: Elliott
by AAP

By Daniel Gilhooly

WELLINGTON, July 26 AAP - Shaun Johnson is coming of age in the eyes of Warriors coach Matthew Elliott - because of his decreasing workload.

Elliott's view seems incongruous but he is adamant the classy young playmaker is at his best when he picks and chooses his moments.

Johnson's involvements in last week's 24-14 win over the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval weren't numerous, but they were meaningful - when he injected himself it was to telling effect.

He scored two tries, set up the match-winner for captain Simon Mannering and kicked four from four goals to extend his perfect run to 20.

His performance, which put Kiwi compatriot and departing Tigers great Benji Marshall in the shade, was the perfect example of how Elliott wants 22-year-old Johnson to drift in and out of games.

"Maturity is shown, particularly in halfbacks, by what they don't do, not what they do do," Elliott said..

"It's always the sign of a halfback out of form if they touch the ball too much.

"I think Shaun's maturity has been developing all year and sometimes when you don't see him as much, he's a bigger influence on the team. For him to step up the way he did was really important for us, we wouldn't have won without it."

Coming off a bye, the 11th-placed Warriors were scratchy in several areas, particularly in the opening exchanges.

It's something Elliott says they won't get away with against third-placed Melbourne Storm in Auckland on Sunday.

The Storm are coming off a shock 39-0 loss to the Bulldogs but that's a game Elliott won't even review because the defending champions were without their Queensland State of Origin stars.

A Melbourne side missing hooker Cameron Smith - "the best player in the game" - fullback Billy Slater and halfback Cooper Cronk are an entirely different proposition to what they will face this weekend with all three restored, Elliott says.

"You take those three guys out of that team and they're not a top four team, maybe not a top eight team," Elliott said.

"That's not being disrespectful to the other players they've got, it's acknowledging how amazing those guys are."


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