NRL: Shaun Johnson named in Warriors side with tickets for home semifinal sold out in minutes

NRL: Shaun Johnson named in Warriors side with tickets for home semifinal sold out in minutes

NRL finals, week two: Warriors v Knights. Where: MT Smart Stadium, Auckland. When: Saturday, 6.05pm (NZT). Coverage: Live on Sky Sport 4, live updates on Stuff

Warriors seats were the hottest commodity in town this week and general release tickets were snapped up in minutes on Tuesday.

The Warriors put up the ‘house full’ sign for the sudden death NRL semifinal against the Newcastle Knights, at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday, just 40 minutes after the general release went on offer at 12pm.

For those who did secure tickets, there’s a double dose of news worth celebrating with superstar halfback Shaun Johnson being named to take his place against the Newcastle Knights, after missing last week’s 32-6 hammering at the hands of the Panthers with calf tightness, in week one of the finals.

The bulk of the tickets for the stadium – official capacity 25,600 – went out the door on Monday after members and Finals FastPass holders got first crack 24 hours earlier than the general release.

Mt Smart did have extra seating on the north bank when the All Blacks played South Africa at the traditional rugby league venue back in July, but that won’t be added at this late stage, Warriors chief executive Cameron George said.

Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

Mt Smart Stadium will be sold out for the Warriors sudden death final against the Newcastle Knights on Saturday.

Warriors head coach Andrew Webster has made just the one change to the side that lost to the Panthers with Johnson’s inclusion meaning Dylan Walker goes back to the bench, at the expense of Freddy Lussick who falls back to the reserves.

Easily the biggest talking point for Saturday – outside of tickets – is whether superstar Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson will play.

All indications from the club are that Johnson will run out to start against the Knights after being named on Tuesday, but the nature of calf injuries means there will be some lingering doubt until he’s got through training this week and is on the field on game day.

The Warriors ($1.54) are the TAB favourites to keep their season going for at least another week with a win over the Knights who are $2.40 outsiders in the head-to-head market. However, like last week, those odds will change significantly if Johnson was to be ruled out.

“We’ve just got to get the job done,” George said.


Penrith book a home NRL preliminary final after a dominant 32-6 win over the Warriors.

NRL finals are run by the NRL who set venues, ticket prices and almost every other detail associated with the matches. There was talk of the match being moved to the much larger capacity stadium of Eden Park but the NRL decided against it and kept the match at the Warriors spiritual home.

But George has no doubts the more than 25,000 fans who were able to secure tickets will bring an atmosphere fitting of the club’s first home final since 2008.

“We know what this stadium is like when it’s rocking and this game means everything to this footy club and it means everything to our fans, so they’ll be very loud and proud I would say,” George said.

“It will be a great game day experience, there will be plenty of entertainment for everyone.”

The two teams sit at one win each in the 2023 NRL regular season with the Warriors taking the win 20-12 in Wellington in round one, and the Knights reversing that result with a 34-24 victory in Newcastle in round six.

Knights head coach Adam O’Brien has injury concerns of his own with halfback Jackson Hastings ruled out with an ankle injury, being replaced by Adam Clune, and edge forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon also gone with a shoulder injury. The latter will be replaced by Dylan Lucas, who like Clune, did not play in the 30-28 extra time win over the Raiders on Sunday.

Warriors: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Rocco Berry, Adam Pompey, Marcelo Montoya, Te Maire Martin, Shaun Johnson; Addin Fonua-Blake, Wayde Egan, Mitchell Barnett, Jackson Ford, Marata Niukore, Tohu Harris (c). Interchange: Dylan Walker, Jazz Tevaga, Bayley Sironen, Josh Curran. Reserves: Freddy Lussick, Taine Tuaupiki, Bunty Afoa, Tom Ale, Edward Kosi.

Knights: Kalyn Ponga, Dominic Young, Dane Gagai, Bradman Best, Greg Marzhew, Tyson Gamble, Adam Clune; Jacob Saifiti, Phoenix Crossland, Leo Thompson, Tyson Frizell, Dylan Lucas, Adam Elliott. Interchange: Kurt Mann, Daniel Saifiti, Jack Hetherington, Mat Croker. Reserves: Brodie Jones, Enari Tuala, Fa’amanu Brown, Lachlan Miller, Jack Johns.

Referee: Adam Gee