20 Sep 2011

Freeman backs Johnson to reach great heights

11:07 am on 20 September 2011

The New Zealand rugby league great Gary Freeman believes brilliant young Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson can become as good as Kiwi superstar Benji Marshall.

Freeman, one of the finest halves to come out of the Shaky Isles, says in Marshall, Johnson and Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran, the Kiwis' playmaking stocks are stronger than ever.

The 21-year-old was outstanding in the Warriors' heart-stopping 22-20 win over Marshall's Wests Tigers on Friday, setting up two of his NRL side's four tries including the bomb for Krisnan Inu's last-gasp four-pointer.

And Freeman is confident the Aucklander has the ability and temperament to shine when the Warriors meet minor premiers Melbourne for a place in the grand final on Saturday.

He says out and out pace and an ability to read the game means Johnson is one of the Warriors biggest threats.

Freeman is also delighted by the progress of Manly's Foran, who he believes will get the nod over Johnson to partner Marshall in the Four Nations tournament starting next month.

He also cautioned against playing Foran in the centres in order to accommodate Johnson in what would potentially be a mouth-watering combination with Marshall.