Can the Warriors thrive, or even just survive, without Shaun Johnson? Well, yes. Yes they can. It’s rarely wise to jump to conclusions after one round but New Zealand appear to have already answered their biggest off-season question.
On a day of swirling emotion at Mt Smart Stadium, in which tickets were given away for free as fans united to honour victims of the Christchurch terror attack, the Warriors were in a class of their own against a hapless Bulldogs outfit that never stood much of a chance.
They raced to a 22-0 lead at half-time and never looked like letting Dean Pay’s side back into the contest, closing it out 40-6.
They dominated every facet of play, were strong through the middle and moved the ball briskly through halves Blake Green and rookie five-eighth Adam Keighran, who scored in his NRL debut and showed immense promise in the key role.