Johnson joins Sharks’ $4 million injury list
Cronulla are in the midst of an injury crisis with Shaun Johnson now racing the clock to be fit against the Warriors on Friday night as the Sharks face the real prospect of having six Test stars and about $4 million worth of talent on the sideline.
News Corp has learnt Johnson left Melbourne in a moonboot after hurting his ankle Cronulla's 40-16 loss to Melbourne.
He will have scans on the injury on Monday after playing on with it in what was arguably his best performance in recent weeks where he scored an individual try on Saturday.
His injury has crippled a Cronulla side already decimated by injury.
Josh Dugan won't play after injuring his hamstring with Wade Graham (hamstring) also missing for at least another two weeks.
Josh Dugan ruled out with a reported hamstring injury (via @FOXNRL). If confirmed would expect at least 2 weeks on the sideline. Ice position low down on hamstring/back of the knee would suggest possible tendon involvement, which usually extends recovery #NRLStormSharks pic.twitter.com/xAHJZYlTeO— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) July 13, 2019
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 uphill battles 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 be left to use a fourth choice fullback if Morris and Moylan don't recover in time. Centre Bronson Xerri briefly filled the role when Dugan and Morris left the field on Saturday.
The rising injury toll will force rookie coach John Morris to call upon a host of unknown players to fill the breach. Local product Billy Magoulias has been 18th man for the Sharks in recent weeks with the back-rower closing in on a debut.
Morris pulled outside backs Sione Katoa and Ronaldo Mulitalo from playing for Cronulla's feeder side Newtown on Sunday with the duo in line to make their NRL returns. The Sharks' backline against the Warriors could be almost unrecognisable from a potential full strength line-up.
Morris, who played 300 top grade games, described his dressing shed as a "hospital ward" on Saturday night.
"I haven't seen an injury toll (like this before) to players in our top five or six," Morris said.
The Sharks are desperate for a win. They 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 for pulling the hair of Melbourne player Felise Kaufusi. Townsend will be fined $1150 with an early guilty plea.