Hurt Johnson sees silver lining in Warriors defeat
SHAUN Johnson was hurting.
Just an hour before he spoke with foxsports.com.au, the full time siren had signalled the end to the Warriors' season, and his first finals campaign since 2011.
And while still trying to come to terms with the loss, a shock to many considering they had easily accounted for the Panthers just two weeks earlier, he managed to articulate the importance of their season.
"We've sort of re-established ourselves and got rugby league back on the map in New Zealand," he said proudly.
"At the start of the year if I had've said to us, 'We'll finish two points off the minor premiership and we'll sell out Mt Smart Stadium in our last home game', you know what I mean," he smiled. "So there's always a silver lining."
When asked if the playing group thought they had overachieved, the Kiwi international bristled.
"Nah that's probably what everyone thought. We knew people wrote us off at the start of the year and nah I don't think we overachieved at all," he shot back.
"I thought we did some things that we haven't done as a club before and really I guess won back a lot of our supporters that have been through those tough times with us over the years."
Blake Green made a big difference in his first season in Auckland, and being signed on for another two years, he's also excited about the direction of the club.
"We've made some big improvements as a footy club, we've worked really hard to break a few hoodoos, we had a fair few scars we had to clean up from the past," he said.
"So yeah hopefully it's a bit of a platform we can use to springboard into next season."
The side's limited finals experience clearly played against them, as they struggled to match Penrith's intensity.
"We've got plenty of young kids in our squad that have never played finals games before and the two at the club that had previously (for the Warriors), it was back in 2011 and it was Shaun and Simon (Mannering)," Green continued.
"So you know it's been a long time between drinks for them and like I said the guys that haven't played finals before it's a good experience to see what it takes to win those games.
"So hopefully it makes us hungry for next time."
Johnson said they've got to remember this hurt for next year's tilt.
"So there's definitely positives from this season. Obviously we're all disappointed and all gutted and hurt with how it's finished, but that's footy," he added.
"And hopefully the sun will come up tomorrow and I'll go home to my beautiful partner and life will be okay."