Shaun Johnson’s passion for the New Zealand jumper and desire to take on Tonga in a monster Pacific Test won’t factor into his NRL return for Cronulla.
Johnson is a chance to make a comeback from a hamstring injury in Thursday night’s showdown with Canberra but was due to pass one final fitness test today.
The superstar playmaker is hoping to be passed fit for next Saturday’s Test against the Mate Ma’a at Mt Smart Stadium.
But Sharks coach John Morris said he and Johnson were taking a team-first approach with his recovery.
“He’s always keen to represent his county,” Morris said.
“But he would never put that before his return from a hamstring and risk his hamstring.
“He said to me during the week ‘yeah I have that around the corner but I don’t want to come back just to get a Test jumper, whatever is best for the team, if I have to miss another week, I miss another week’.
“That’s one thing we’re doing at the moment; the team-first mentality is very strong.”
Johnson has been sidelined since round seven of the NRL in late April and was close to making his comeback in last week’s big win over Parramatta.
Should Johnson take his place in the halves, Kyle Flanagan could be shifted to the bench utility spot after proving his bona fides as a first-grader over the past month-and-a-half.
With Flanagan running the side alongside Chad Townsend, the Sharks have won four of six games.
Flanagan was this week linked with a move to the Sydney Roosters but Morris said he was shocked considering the 20-year-old is contracted for another two-and-a- half years.
“As far as I can see, it’s been all speculation. I’m not going to comment because I’ve had no approach,” Morris said.
“All I can say is Kyle is here on a three-year contract and is a huge part of this team.
“No one has approached me about it, I’m a bit shocked it’s been getting the run it has in the media. He’s a valued member of this team and we like what he’s doing for us.”