Shaun Johnson stinker vindicates Sharks' Nicho Hynes call

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Pictured left to right, Cronulla's Nicho Hynes and Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson.
Cronulla's Nicho Hynes showed up former Sharks halfback Shaun Johnson in a stunning win against the Warriors in round nine. Pic: Getty/AAP

It was less than a year ago when Immortal Andrew Johns was asked his opinion on whether Cronulla letting Shaun Johnson go and replacing him with Nicho Hynes at No.7 was a smart move.

"I don't see Nicho as a halfback, I see him as a deputy, he's not the sheriff. He's not Chief Wiggum," Joey declared.

"If it was my decision, I'd have Johnson at halfback, Nicho at five-eighth and Will Kennedy at fullback.

"You don't see other players go on from the Storm and kick on, so that's the challenge for Nicho."

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Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but Cronulla's decision to let Johnson go and sign Hynes was a masterstroke emphatically underlined by what we saw at PointsBet Stadium on Sunday.

When the Sharks went down to 12 men following Will Kennedy's send off – and later 11 when Jesse Ramien was binned early in the second half – the game was there for the winning by the visitors.

This was Johnson's moment, the reason teams have forked out big bucks for him over the years.

Hynes is still learning his craft as a half-back but the Warriors No.7 is supposed to be an experienced game manager.

Johnson saved one of his poorest performances for a match that was surely harder to lose than win, given his team's numerical advantage.

It was almost like he didn’t quite know how to go about breaking a team down in numbers, playing a side-to-side game without setting a platform and over or undercooking everything he did.

With his side up against 11 and desperate for a repeat set to maintain pressure in the second half, Johnson put in a grubber kick that nearly dented the back fence.

Shaun Johnson and Warriors fail to capitalise against Sharks


An incredulous Greg Alexander, in commentary, said: "I can’t believe they just released all that pressure with a poor kick from Shaun Johnson.

"There's no way the Sharks defend their line for another set. A repeat set would just about have killed them off."

Pictured right, Warriors half Shaun Johnson passing the footy during the NRL round nine match against the Cronulla Sharks.
Warriors half Shaun Johnson passes the footy during the round nine match against the Cronulla Sharks at PointsBet Stadium. Pic: Getty

Later, with his team still in the game and needing a good clearing kick, Johnson shovels the ball onto interchange forward Jack Murchie on the last tackle and the Warriors turn the ball over 20m out from their line.

It's brain-dead stuff from such an experienced player.

On another occasion, a lazy knock-on halted his team's momentum dead cold.

He seemed lost for answers. He was in a state of paralysis.

Hynes, who remember has played just nine NRL games at half-back, showed Johnson how to get it done.

He produced two kicks for repeat sets, robbing the Warriors of time and buying Cronulla possession at a crucial stage of the second half.

By now it was the Warriors who looked gassed and down in troops.

They were hanging on, not the other way around.

Somebody better tell Joey there's a new sheriff in town.

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