NRL 2023: New Zealand Warriors loss to the Brisbane Broncos, preliminary final, Shaun Johnson apology to fans, Andrew Webster, finals, highlights

Warriors fan favourite Shaun Johnson has issued a heartfelt apology to fans of the New Zealand club after their 42-12 loss to the Broncos.

Andrew Webster’s side have been one of the feel good stories of the year, with many pundits tipping the Warriors to be in the bottom three.

However, with several recruits firing, alongside Johnson, the Warriors were only 80 minutes away from their first grand final appearance since 2011.

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‘Up the Wahs’ chants also spread worldwide, with even NBA championship-winning coach Steve Kerr getting in on the act.

Johnson, who is one of the leading contenders to win the Dally M Medal, heaped praise on the Broncos in defeat and also apologised to Warriors fans.

“(I’m) disappointed, but full credit to the Broncos, they were sharp tonight, I thought they played really fast and I think they’re going to go pretty well next week,” Johnson said to Nine.

“The turnaround has been massive obviously for the club to be able to go back home and I think rugby league in New Zealand is popping off right now.

“I want to say to all our fans and members, they supported us all year long, sorry we let you down tonight.

“But the love and support we’ve received has just been amazing and the playing group certainly appreciated it.”

Meanwhile, speaking in the post-match press conference, Webster explained his side were “frustrated” after a blatant Reece Walsh forward pass went unnoticed.

“The forward pass was so wrong it wasn’t funny. But at the end of the day, they made a linebreak, they made a linebreak, we allowed the linebreak, and the forward pass comes off the back of that,” he said.

“The forward pass was so wrong, but we’re not crying over that. It certainly didn’t cost us the game.”

Originally published as ‘Rugby league is popping off’: Warriors hero’s gutting apology to New Zealand

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