Former Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson has signed a two-year deal to return to the club where he became a star.
The Warriors have confirmed the star half will join the club after his current contract with the Cronulla Sharks expires at the end of the 2021 season.
The Herald understands the deal was agreed yesterday after talks started around a week ago.
"While he left to join the Sharks, Shaun's heart has always been with the Vodafone Warriors after starting his career here," Warriors chief executive Cameron George said.
"We're thrilled we're able to bring him home to again play in the Vodafone Warriors jersey in front of our members and fans at Mount Smart.
"Shaun stands among the top playmakers in the competition and he'll give us a significant boost from next season."
Johnson, who played 162 games for the Warriors over eight seasons, is understood to be excited to finish his career with the New Zealand club.
According to a source close to the deal, the "stars have aligned" allowing Johnson to come back.
Johnson owns the Warriors' all-time record for most points (917) and also ranks among the club's leading try scorers with 63.
Johnson is the second half to be signed by the club from the Sharks in the last week, after they confirmed Chad Townsend, another former Warrior, would be joining the club for the remainder of the 2021 season before his new contract with the North Queensland Cowboys begins.
Johnson left the Warriors in 2018 in dramatic fashion with the club and coach seemingly, and very publicly, appearing to lose faith in him. The Herald understands that the reported bad blood between Johnson and some in the club when he left is no longer considered an issue.
While no details on his new salary at the Warriors have been made available, Johnson signed a two-year deal with the Warriors in 2017 that made him the highest-paid player in the club's history and their first million-dollar man.
Johnson will face the Warriors twice more for the Cronulla Sharks before the end of this season.
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors looks on after winning the round 25 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Canberra Raiders in 2018. Photo / Getty Images.
Speaking to Fox Sports after a game two weeks ago, Johnson said the decision to let him leave the Sharks came as a surprise but he was open to any opportunity that comes his way.
"I got the news a couple of weeks back and it wasn't the news I wanted to hear," Johnson said.
"I'd hoped to see my career out at this club. They gave me an opportunity three years ago and I certainly enjoyed my time here.
"It's not meant to be, they want to head in a different direction and I do respect that but for me all I can focus on is coming out here and getting some games under my belt and trusting that next year will take care of itself.
"Tonight hopefully helps and if there's any clubs out there after a halfback, I'm your man."