Johnson shocked by Sharks' call on Morris

·3-min read

Shaun Johnson has thrown his support behind under siege John Morris with Cronulla bosses to meet with the NRL coach's manager about his future at the club on Monday.

It comes as reports emerged linking the Sharks with rookie coach Craig Fitzgibbon, currently assistant to Trent Robinson at the Sydney Roosters, for next season.

Morris is off-contract at the end of the season as well as at least 14 Sharks players - including Johnson - putting the club in a precarious situation with their roster beyond this year.

On Sunday night the former Warriors star said he has been shocked by the treatment of Morris.

"If I was at the club next year I'd love for Bomber (Morris) to be around because for me personally, he's definitely brought a better version of myself out," Johnson told Fox League.

"Coming over from New Zealand, what I got with Bomber was someone who genuinely believed in me and pushed me every day.

"We'd have open conversations. It's probably a bit selfish for me to say that he should stay on in any capacity but I think he's beyond (being an NRL assistant).

"You look what he's done, he hasn't had any control over the roster, he's been in a situation where our cap has been shot the past few years and he's just made do and got us all on board."

Morris has been working with a depleted salary cap and an immense injury toll over the past two seasons but the Sharks have still managed to play finals football.

In 2019 and 2020 they were forced to play $350,000 under the salary cap as an NRL penalty for previous breaches.

Morris took over as head coach in 2019 after Shane Flanagan's registration was cancelled by the NRL, but has been in the club's coaching system since he retired in 2014.

"I just look at the facts," Johnson said.

"I don't know how you can have a coach who has been thrown in the deep end right from the start, had to take over a difficult situation with Flanagan leaving, taken a side to the finals for the last couple of years and then finds himself in the position that he's in now."

Johnson's passionate defence of Morris comes ahead of a meeting on Monday morning between Sharks boss Dino Mezzatesta and Morris' manager Chris Orr.

It's understood that Fitzgibbon has all but agreed to join the Sharks and has informed the Roosters he intends to take up an offer.

It comes after Saturday night's 26-18 loss to the Roosters, which was seen as further evidence of the Sharks' recent struggles against top eight teams.

They have not beaten one since August 2019.

Morris has asked the Sharks for a contract extension on multiple occasions without any joy.

"I don't intend going down without a fight." he told News Corp on Sunday.

"I love this club and my commitment and work ethic will remain strong.

"The constant speculation around my job hasn't been pleasant but, until I get told differently, it's business as usual preparing for our next game."

Without certainty over the head coach for next season the club cannot begin to work on their playing roster.

Big names Johnson, Matt Moylan, Aaron Woods, Josh Dugan and Toby Rudolf all come off contract at the end of the year.