Life just keeps getting better by the day for Shaun Johnson.
After debuting for the New Zealand Warriors last season he didn’t waste time in demonstrating to the rugby league community what blistering pace, mesmerising footwork and a mature head on young shoulders can do. By the season’s end he even had a grand final appearance to his name. Not a bad start to the career of the twenty-one year old Auckland born prodigy.
He had big dreams. They were big dreams reaching for an even bigger reality. Now the reality has become even larger again with his selection in the New Zealand squad for tonight’s test against Australia.
Testing himself against the best, it will be a debut to saviour; the long awaited moment is nearly upon him whereby his desire for a meaningful and sustainable test career takes off in search of greatness.
That mantle may not be his bed mate yet, but for one so young with what is clearly potential of biblical proportions, he is surely about to begin his journey along the long, winding road that could lead to him one day gracing the dizzying heights of the hallowed corridors of Rugby League immortality.
He may be inexperienced, but he is slowly but surely putting that hindrance in its place.
Not for Johnson to hide under a cowl fretting about his ability to generate the performance of the night, wishing to jump from a pier into the wash of despair. To be fair it’s not that he doesn’t care. He does. When one is young and oh so talented to go, confidence is never far from the surface. Truth to the spot, it is simply a case of the rising superstar believing in his ability, having confidence but without any of the unseemly arrogance that lesser mortals sometimes display.
Indeed, so eager is he to perform on the biggest of stages that the coaching staff will have to put a leash on this precocious talent as a way of preventing the young man from enforcing his own version of Dickensian squalor upon his rivals. Sod that for a game of soldiers the Aussies may say, but boy can Johnson play.
And he may be just what the Kiwi’s need in their battle to end Australia’s Anzac Day domination of the annual encounter; a powerhouse talent that has all the necessary weapons to create performances of lethal electricity that send shock waves through the opposing camp with his monumental attacking majesty. Best of all, with his presence, the pressure will to a certain extent be taken off Benji Marshall to produce the unlikely. Now, there are two points of attack to a team that has in the past struggled to break Australia down. One star may go east, the other may go west, the opposition may never know until it is too late though which is best to concentrate on.
So, look out defence; be on your guard, for, given even the slightest hint of a cavity, the acute mind of Johnson will dream up the unlikeliest of schemes to slice his way through as he launches one of his fearsome attacking raids that he is fast becoming renowned for. It may be a dummy that fools the easily captivated, it could be lightening acceleration that catches his foe napping or even a grubber kick to be regathered. Whatever he decides on it is sure to keep the masses on the edge of their seats as he sets about putting his stamp on proceedings.
Black and white, day and night, life is full of extremes and so are many of its inhabitants. Johnson may suffer from extreme talent, but unlike many others he has only one setting, and that is consistently good.
You may not know what is coming next, though inevitably it always turns out for the best.
For, he is the almighty Johnson.