Cronulla are in the midst of an injury crisis with Shaun Johnson set to join $4 million worth of talent on the sideline.
Cronulla are in the midst of an injury crisis with Shaun Johnson set to make it six Test stars and $4 million worth of talent sidelined.
There are fears Johnson will miss Friday night’s clash with former side the New Zealand Warriors after suffering a serious ankle injury in Cronulla’s 40-16 loss to Melbourne.
Johnson will have scans today after he Melbourne in a moon boot yesterday, having played on with the injury in arguably his best performance in recent weeks.
Cronulla coach John Morris confirmed Johnson was in grave doubt for the match.
“Shaun is in a moon boot for a suspected syndesmosis injury and will have scans to confirm extent of injury,” Morris said.
Josh Dugan won’t play after injuring his hamstring with Wade Graham (hamstring) also missing for at least another two weeks.
Paul Gallen (glute) is unlikely to return in time to play the Warriors while Matt Moylan (hamstring) and Josh Morris (badly broken nose) are facing an up-hill battle to be fit in time to travel to New Zealand with the rest of the squad on Tuesday.
Kyle Flanagan will replace Johnson in the halves but Cronulla could turn to young Will Kennedy as a fourth-choice fullback option if Morris and Moylan are ruled out.
Rookie coach Morris will likely need to call upon a host of unknown players to fill the breach. Local back-row product Billy Magoulias has been 18th man for the Sharks in recent weeks and is closing in on a debut.
Morris pulled outside backs Sione Katoa and Ronaldo Mulitalo from playing for Cornulla’s feeder side Newtown yesterday for likely NRL returns.
The Sharks’ backline against the Warriors could be almost unrecognisable from a potential full strength line-up.
“I have never seen an injury toll quote like this, in particular to our top-line players,” Morris said.
“Graham, (Aaron) Woods, Moylan and Johnson have all spent extended time on the sidelines this year and we are yet to run out our strongest 17 on paper.
“In saying this, we have full confidence in our ability to fight through it and turn it around.
“The boys are very resilient and believe in each other. The boys are a bit down on confidence at the moment but know we haven’t been that far off and there is still all lot of good in our game, despite not getting the result.”
The Sharks slumped to their fourth consecutive loss on Saturday night and have fallen outside the top eight.
They received some good news with Chad Townsend escaping a ban and facing just an $1150 fine for pulling the hair of Melbourne’s Felise Kaufusi.
“There were some signs against the Storm that showed what we were made of, especially to fight back like that at the start of the second half,” Morris said. “If Sosaia Feki’s try is awarded we hit the front at the 60th minute.
“We had 700 NRL games sitting on the sidelines plus we lost Dugan at the 20th minute. That spirit will hold us in good stead over the coming weeks. I
“I know that win is not far away as the boys are continuing to work very hard and are a very close-knit group.”