Warriors players join hunt for halfback

Warriors boss Cameron George expects senior players will have a role in deciding who fills the chasm left behind by Shaun Johnson.

The search for a new halfback swung into action on Wednesday after the most high-profile player at the Auckland club had his request for a release granted.

Speculation has emerged that the club are targeting New Zealand-born Australian schoolboys halfback Dylan Brown on a long-term deal from 2020, when he comes off contract.

The 18-year-old is yet to play first grade but has made an impression in the junior ranks at the Parramatta Eels and their feeder club Wentworthville.

If Brown is the target, the Warriors would still need a solution for 2019, through a one-year player signing or through forming a makeshift halves pairing with their own thinned resources.

George expected the players to put the Johnson bombshell behind them and hinted the leadership group would play a part in the recruitment drive, supporting the work of key officials Brian Smith and Peter O'Sullivan.

"They'd be mad not to talk to the leadership group, I've got no doubt they will," George said.

Veteran half Blake Green could be the loudest voice as the Warriors pursue a player who can click with his structured style close to the ruck.

Seasoned professionals such as Green will also be important in telling younger players not to fret over Johnson's explosive exit.

"They'll be disappointed because Shaun's been a big part of their lives," George said.

"They've grown up with Shaun but it's also another example of what this competition's like.

"It's really important the guys bounce off the back of this adversity and show our fans that we're not going to miss a beat."

It is unclear what impact a shift to Australia will have on Johnson's partner, Silver Ferns netballer Kayla Cullen.

The injury-prone Cullen is contracted to Auckland club the Northern Stars for 2019 but may now seek a release herself and try to shoehorn a contract in Australia's Super Netball competition.