Warriors' halfback answer to replace Shaun Johnson lies within

OPINION: So with Shaun Johnson gone, the big question floating around is who will the Warriors have playing at halfback next season?

They could go with someone from Australia, but at this point of the season, it's likely they're only going to find a player who's not wanted by his current club.

That means it will be someone who's on bucket loads of money, who's under performed and his current club want to get him off their books. Or it will be someone who's been playing mostly in reserve grade, had a few opportunities in the top team, but never really established himself.

Warriors' halfback answer to replace Shaun Johnson lies within
Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.Chanel Harris-Tavita has been training with the first-grade team this month.

Chanel Harris-Tavita has been training with the first-grade team this month.

Names like Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman, Te Maire Martin, Kodi Nikorima and Luke Brooks have been thrown out there.

But in the case of Norman, his off-field indiscretions hardly fit in with the Warriors' policy of signing players who'll improve the team's culture. Chances are, whoever they look to get, he won't be as good a player as Johnson and for any Australian player, the Warriors will have to pay overs to bring them to New Zealand.

But the answer for the club might lie within, with 19-year-old Chanel Harris-Tavita.

Anyone who saw the incredible try he set up for the Junior Kiwis against the Junior Kangaroos last month will remember how much talent he has, his 'scorpion kick', off the back of his foot, through the Australian line, showed that there's something special about him.

But he's not all flash stuff, he is a good distributor of the ball and pairing him up in the halves with Blake Green and letting the Australian be the controlling player, will allow Harris-Tavita to play with freedom, gain confidence and not be burdened by the responsibility of being the main guy steering the team around.

Harris-Tavita hasn't come from nowhere, in 2016 he was the Warriors' NYC rookie of the year and last year picked up the award for Warriors' NYC player of the year and was also the NZRL Junior player of the year.

When Green partnered Mason Lino in the halves this year when Johnson was injured, he controlled the game and a different side of Lino came out, where he showed there is a creative element to his game. That could happen too with Harris-Tavita.

Of course, going with a player who doesn't turn 20 until next April is a risk, but sometimes it's worth taking that gamble on a young player.

Kalyn Ponga made his debut for the Cowboys at the age of 18, so too was Nathan Cleary.

It may not seem like the ideal situation to thrust Harris-Tavita in there at the beginning of a campaign, but give him the whole preseason working in the halves with Green and he should be feeling at home there by the time round one comes around.

Harris-Tavita's biggest weakness at the moment is his kicking game, but let Stacey Jones spend some quality time with him over the next few months and he should blossom

At the moment for Warriors fans it might feel like the sky has just fallen in as one of the main faces at the club heads away.

But in years to come, this could be looked at as the moment the club turned the corner.

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