A half fit Shaun Johnson is every man’s never-never.
In a land where our dreams go to achieve the impossible, this halfback takes our dreams and rotates them into reality. His reality. Because only he can.
Where we frown with frustration he frolics with the fantastical. Where we fret with fear of failing to take flight, he sprinkles with stardust the arenas of the NRL. That stage is his Neverland; where the impossible is nigh for all but he.
Week in, week out, where a weekly wishing-well wishes this talisman not a doubt, he doubts not as a gap appears. A dummy, a burst of alacrity, the never-never’s never-never could never dream this material up.
For he arcs, he swerves, he beats with speed, he confounds with steps that side with right angles; He mesmerises, for he can do it all.
He runs rings around those usually sound of defence. Just ask the 2016 Gold Coast vintage. They will attest to his abilities as a magician. With the visitors all level at Mt Smart, last Saturday, Johnson rended their defence to shreds. He arced, he fended, and they barely laid a finger on him over the course of sixty metres.
If Harry Potter had this kind of magical capacity, Voldermort would never have bothered reappearing.
And all this was achieved while operating on one leg. With his Quad muscle having been compressed against the fiery pits of his femur numerous weeks earlier, this was the second game changing try – The first being against the Roosters – he had procured on a body generating no more than fifty percent of its operating capacity.
And all the while, hobbling forth, he betrayed not his defensive duties. He tackled with eagerness, he scrambled as one with his teammates. That is he the ultimate team man is not open to interpretation.
For this is why Andrew McFadden decided to take a calculated risk by playing Johnson; He’s a match winner and a team player. And clearly medical advice had no doubt poured scorn upon the chances of further damage occurring. So why not play him? He’s a match winner.
Sure, he couldn’t fulfil his usual kicking duties. But then the Warriors had Thomas Leuluai and Isaac Luke to ably take control of that department. Just those two tries have been a major contribution to his team garnering four valuable competition points. Those are four points that may not have come about otherwise.
And that is why, injured or not, you play your star whenever possible.
And Shaun Johnson is a true superstar of Rugby League. He’s a magician, too.