Shaun Johnson’s season may have ended in devastating fashion last Saturday – courtesy of a broken ankle suffered when his foot became trapped under Manly second-rower Tom Symonds while scoring a trademark solo try – but the reigning Golden Boot winner still provided us with another astonishing highlights reel that most stars would take a decade to put together.
Criticised early in the season for a steady-as-she-goes start to 2015, Johnson produced the odd flash of brilliance in the opening rounds, but it was a virtuoso display in the Kiwis’ first Anzac Test victory in 17 years – in which he stepped past Johnathan Thurston to score a memorable try – that provided a launching pad for his NRL campaign.
The gifted halfback scored an outrageous last-minute try to snatch a victory for the Warriors over Cronulla at Remondis Stadium just six days after the Test, the first of three straight wins he orchestrated.
After back-to-back losses to Souths and Sydney Roosters, Johnson went ballistic, scoring two sensational tries in a big win over Gold Coast. Another stunning, hot-stepping try followed against Canberra a week later, before producing arguably his best four-pointer of the year against Melbourne in which he left Cameron Smith grasping at air.
That win propelled the Warriors into the top four, but less than a fortnight later his year was over and the club’s season, seemingly, is in tatters.
In 18 games, Johnson crossed for eight tries (equal-24th in the NRL), racked up 130 points (third), produced 12 try assists (fifth) and made 14 line breaks (10th).
Take a look back at another special season – albeit one that finished far too early – from one of the most unique talents the code has ever seen.