Former Warrington player and coach Brian Johnson has died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Growing up in the Illawarra region in the Australian state of NSW, Johnson debuted for St George in 1979 as a fullback. He became a crowd favourite at the Dragons, playing 149 games for the club and winning a grand final there in his first year.
Johnson scored a try in the 1979 grand final victory over Canterbury and was named Dally M fullback of the year in 1980.
Johnson spent one season at Eastern Suburbs before joining Warrington. He played in Regal Trophy and Lancashire Cup finals for the Wire, scoring a try in the 1985 Premiership Trophy final against Halifax.
In total Johnson made 103 appearances for Warrington. In the 1988-89 season he became head coach and led the club to claim several trophies.
Warrington won the Lancashire Cup in 1989 and reached the Challenge Cup final that year.
Johnson left the Wire in 1996 after 130 games in charge and was later employed by the Australian Institute of Sport as a rugby league coach. He also coached the Dragons’ NSWRL First-Division team to a grand final win in 2001.
A teacher in his younger days, Johnson returned to Wollongong after his UK stint to live with his wife and two sons. He was 59 when he died.
Warrington has released this statement:”The club and Players’ Association pass on their condolences to Brian’s wife Karen and two sons Brett and Liam.”
Former Warrington and Widnes utility Jonathan Davies tweeted his sadness at Johnson’s passing.
“Shocked and saddened by the news. RIP Brian loved being coached by you,” he said.
Widnes centre Charly Runciman was coached by Johnson at the AIS.
“Really sad to hear Brian Johnson has passed,” Runciman tweeted.
“Great coach of many young kids myself included at the AIS. A great wire and dragons player #RIP.”