Matty Johns speaks out amid 'whispers' Addin Fonua-Blake will be granted early release

The Warriors prop has been stood down for this weekend's game and could be looking to head to Cronulla early.

Both clubs will deny it, the player's manager has quashed the idea and the salary cap tells you it can’t happen. But this is the NRL and talk continues to intensify that Warriors prop Addin Fonua-Blake may make a mid-season swap to Cronulla after a falling-out with his club.

Fonua-Blake has been stood down for Sunday's game against the Dolphins after leaving the dressing room and heading for the team bus before the post-match debrief and victory song following the emotional Magic Round win over Penrith. He was handed a breach notice for failing to adhere to strict "club standards".

Addin Fonua-Blake and Matty Johns.
Matty Johns has fuelled speculation Addin Fonua-Blake will get an early release to the Cronulla Sharks. Image: Getty

The front-rower's management team claim he left the dressing room early because he was disappointed in his performance and needed to "reflect on his own". Coach Andrew Webster said in a statement: "This doesn’t meet our standards and Addin accepts full responsibility for his behaviour."

Fonua-Blake will head to the Sharks next year but his suspension has ignited speculation he could walk immediately and land at Cronulla before the June 30 player deadline. Truth is often stranger than fiction in rugby league – and Fonua-Blake has form in this area. He asked for – and was granted – a release to leave Manly and join the Warriors in 2021.

"It doesn't add up, it's strange," Matty Johns said on SEN radio. "I've seen this a million times how this plays out. The disgruntled player…you can just see it coming.

"The first thing that crosses your mind is 'early release'. That's what you think. If they're (Cronulla) eight bucks to win the comp (and) they land Fonua-Blake, they go into fives, sixes."

Addin Fonua-Blake.
Addin Fonua-Blake in action for the Warriors against the Panthers.

Johns conceded it was a risky ploy by the Warriors to potentially alienate their most damaging forward, but applauded Webster for not compromising on his beliefs. "It is very principled to stand down close to the best yardage man in the competition at the moment," Johns said. "When you've got young players that are looking for guidance and looking particularly at a senior player who does that, if they just let that slide a lot of the younger players (think) it gives them a little bit of breathing space and a little bit of rope."

The injury-hit Warriors' courageous win over the Panthers ended a five-game winless streak, reviving their top eight hopes. The Sharks are flying high at the top of the ladder after wins over Melbourne and the Roosters. They face another test of their premiership credentials against Penrith on Saturday night.