With players hopping from club to club more than ever before and the trend of swapping codes to gain a larger paycheck, most would think loyalty to clubs had vanished from the NRL years ago. It seems as though players no longer care about what team they are representing as long as that team is benefiting their bank account.
One player who is defying this trend is Shaun Johnson who says, “I love the club, everyone knows I love the club. I grew up idolising the club.”
Due to the Warriors growing number of high-profile players, it is suspected the club will have to say goodbye to some big names or they will be subjected to a pay cut.
It is extremely uncommon for a high-profile player to want to stay at a club after talk of a pay cut but for Johnson, it isn’t about the money, it’s about the love of the game and the loyalty to the club that made him who he is today.
“We just need to win. If that means I take less money or that means I can’t be there to be apart of it, I want the club to win. It’s pretty simple.”
Johnson is one of the biggest names in the game at the moment and in the prime of his career, therefore he can demand a lot of money. It is admirable to see a player putting loyalty before money which we don’t see much of in the NRL these days.
Although there is the argument of players making the most of the limited time they have in the game, it is a nice change to see a player putting his passion for a club before the cash.
Johnson is not the first player to stay loyal, the Rugby League great Stacey Jones had a one-club NRL career for the Warriors for a decade and became one of the few League players to become a household name in New Zealand.
Shaun Johnson and Stacey Jones’s loyalty to their club is a rare phenomenon due to most players opting for the large amounts of cash over loyalty to the teams that gave them a chance.
Sonny BIll Williams is a prime example of this since he left the Bulldogs without much of a warning and was lured to French Rugby Union by the temptation of money that he could never earn by playing in the NRL.
I believe players lose a sense of respect among fans and the game when they show no loyalty to the club they began their career with. They get lost amongst an influx of players that come and go each season and are never at a club long enough to be remembered.