NZ Warriors stalwart Shaun Johnson has shut down any possibility that he may leave the club when his contract expires at the end of this year.
Johnson's resurgent play this year as part of a revitalised Warriors team has made him an attractive free agent to rival NRL clubs.
Earlier this month, Sydneysiders Wests Tigers reportedly came to the table with the offer of a two-year contract worth $1.5 million to lure Johnson back across the Tasman, which the halfback summarily rejected.
On Tuesday, the 32-year-old added some clarity to his situation, admitting he only has two options on his mind - playing another season with the Warriors or hanging up his boots for good.
"I could've gone somewhere else," Johnson said.
"If I do play, I want it to be here… and I probably made that pretty clear with my answer to a club coming out a couple of weeks ago.
"I don't want to go elsewhere and try and win. I want to win here, if I'm playing. It's simply what it came down to."
After some injury plagued years, Johnson added his main priority is staying healthy, enjoying his rugby league, and competing at the top end of the NRL table.
While he confesses he's flattered by the level of belief show in him from other clubs, Johnson stresses - at this stage of his career - money isn't his motivating factor.
"If I'm going to do this and I'm going to put my body through another pre-season, then it has to be to win, and I believe that the Warriors are in a position to win," he said.
"I couldn't see myself going elsewhere to compete against that."
Either way, it appears the ball is well and truly in Johnson's court as to whether he wants to extend his deal into a 10th season with the club he joined as a developmental player back in 2009.
The Warriors also seem likely to face a logjam in the halves, with the return of Chanel Harris-Tavita from 2024 adding to a crop that already includes Te Maire Martin, Luke Metcalf, and Ronald Volkman.
Despite some recent struggles, the Warriors have looked like a transformed unit under new coach Andrew Webster, showing the kind of resilience in close games that's been absent for the best part of this decade.
Some savvy recruitment has ensured the depth of talent in the squad has significantly improved, and former Dally M medallist Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's impending comeback next year will provide another huge boost to their stocks.
If Johnson were to step away from the game at the end of the current campaign, he insisted he'd do so completely satisfied with his contribution to the game.
"There's no unfinished business. I'm certainly very content with what I've been able to achieve in my career, and if it was just to finish up right now, I would leave this smiling.
"I don't have any chip on my shoulder. I don't have a point to prove to anyone.
"I play this game because I love it and I still feel like I've got this competitive bug in me that I want to win.
"So long as that's there and as long as I'm happy, then no door is closed."
On Saturday, the eighth-placed Warriors will try to bounce back from their loss to the Broncos in Napier against Redcliffe Dolphins at Mt Smart.2023-05-30T03:18:25Z dg43tfdfdgfd