Shaun Johnson tipping Cronulla team-mate for international success

New Zealand half-back Shaun Johnson is confident Cronulla team-mate Briton Nikora can achieve great things on the international stage. 

Johnson, who joined the Sharks ahead of the 2019 campaign, says he advised Kiwi’s Head Coach Michael Maguire about Nikora’s eligibility after being impressed during pre-season training.

The 21-year-old only made his NRL debut in March, but has now played in 12 games for the seventh-placed Sharks, scoring three tries.

Now, Johnson and Nikora are set to line up together for New Zealand in their mid-season test against Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium.

Speaking to NRL.com, Johnson said: “I remember he stood out to me straight away. I trained a couple of sessions with him and was asking about him straight away, are you a Kiwi?

“Funnily enough I had a meeting with ‘Madge’ [Michael Maguire] that week. Briton hadn’t even played first grade yet, but I said to Madge that we have got a young boy down in Cronulla who is going to be something special.

“In no way did I think he would be playing this game, but I said we need to get him in the environment just so he knows that is where he belongs.”

Ahead of his possible international debut for the Maori national team, Nikora expressed his thanks to Johnson, who is approaching 200 NRL first grade appearances.

“He believes in me, and I am grateful to have someone like him at the Cronulla Sharks to learn off,” Nikora admitted.

“When he came to Cronulla I was over the moon just to train with him, let alone play alongside him, and now I get the opportunity to play Kiwis with him.”

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20-year-old Sports Journalism graduate from the University of Chester. Freelance writer for Love Rugby League, Tribe Sports and others. Also part of the Marketing and Communications team at the Cheshire FA.Twitter: @J_M_Messenger