Cleary acknowledges Johnson's progression

Steve Jancetic, NZ Newswire June 12, 2012, 8:27 am

Shaun Johnson's progression from flashy rookie to bona fide NRL star took another step as he guided the Warriors to a 30-16 win over Penrith.

Better known for the individual sparks of brilliance which punctuated last season's entry to the NRL, it was Johnson's maturity and composure which came to the fore against a Panthers side which struggled to break free of his grip at a rain-soaked CUA Stadium on Monday night .

His kicking game handed Manu Vatuvei an early double and gave Penrith winger Etu Uaisele fits all night, leaving the man who groomed him into an NRL No.7 - Panthers coach Ivan Cleary - with little option but to acknowledge his development.

"He's a huge talent obviously, I thought tonight was a pretty mature performance really," said the former Warriors mentor after the game.

While the atrocious conditions dictated his style of play, Johnson conceded he needed to add some stability to his game which took the competition by storm in 2011.

"I can't keep playing those flashy things if i want to progress in the game," Johnson said.

"As a player you always want to keep improving.

"Hopefully tonight's performance would've earnt me a little respect from the boys.

"There wasn't that much chance to do that flashy stuff, but I thought I played direct and really bossed the boys around.

"I certainly feel more responsibility now, it's just natural to grow into the role."

While the final margin would indicate a easy win for the visitors, they were made to work for it after a Panthers side missing its three best players in NSW Origin stars Luke Lewis, Michael Jennings and prop Tim Grant came from 12-0 down to take a 16-12 lead with three tries in eight minutes.

But rookie Konrad Hurrell snapped up a spilled Penrith ball to race away and score.

James Maloney and Kevin Locke added their name to the scoresheet to confirm the win - which moved the Warriors to within two points of the top eight.

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