31 Oct 2016

Johnson motivated by criticism

7:48 am on 31 October 2016

Shaun Johnson admits silencing his critics was a motivating factor in his match- winning Four Nations performance against England and his New Zealand teammates are delighted to see him return to form ahead of next weekend's clash against Australia.

Johnson said after Sunday's 17-16 win at Huddersfield he had been stung by criticism following a poor NRL season with the Warriors and an under-par display against Australia in the Kiwis' recent defeat in Perth.

Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson during 2016 Four Nations

Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson during 2016 Four Nations Photo: Photosport

The 2014 Golden Boot winner is the one of the game's true talents but the weight of expectation upon his shoulders at club and international level has often affected his game.

But after laying the foundations for the Four Nations win against an England side that went in full of confidence following last year's series win against the Kiwis with a 70-metre try and then winning the match with a field goal, Johnson seems to have rediscovered his mojo.

"We all know he's a great player and he showed that against England," New Zealand prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves said.

"Shaun can do things other players can't and that little bit of magic can make all the difference in tight matches. When he is confident and happy he is great player to have in your team.

"We have another tough game coming up against the Aussies but we'll take a lot from the England win."

Johnson has been the scourge of the English before, winning the 2013 World Cup semi-final with a last-second try and kick, and said he will go into the Kangaroos clash at Coventry in a great headspace following a much improved performance.

"We were very disappointed in Perth with how we finished our sets, we didn't need outside influences to tell us that," Johnson said.

"Defence was the key to the win. We let in 26 points in Perth due to us coughing up the ball and we needed to play smarter and we did that."

"We'll be much better next week against the Aussies and go to Coventry with a lot of confidence."

- AAP

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