Sharks lose Johnson for Dragons NRL clash

·2-min read

Shaun Johnson will have to wait another week for his 200th NRL match after he was ruled out of Cronulla's local derby against St George Illawarra.

The Sharks had help hope as late as Thursday morning that Johnson would be fit to return from a hamstring injury to take on the Dragons.

But the call was made after the club's captain's run to prolong his return for another week, leaving him on 199 NRL games.

Johnson has managed just three games this season on return from an achilles injury, and remains off contract beyond the end of this year.

While his fitness could present some concern to potential suitors, he was still one of the best halves in the NRL last year setting up 23 tries in 16 games.

There is also the potential he could be lured to rugby union, where it's expected he would be an attractive option.

Regardless, it means the off-contract Matt Moylan will again partner Townsville-bound Chad Townsend in the halves.

Andrew Fifita will also miss the grudge match, after suffering his own minor hamstring injury in his first game of the season against South Sydney last week.

"Andrew was a pleasant surprise last week," Hannay said.

"But unfortunately we have to err on the side of caution there. But it's good to have him back up and running."

Regardless of the injuries, the Sharks desperately need a win.

Hannay pointed out last week that teams against sides also outside of the top five are crucial, with the remaining 11 sides fighting for three finals spots.

The Sharks have lost six games in a row, but only have two more matches left against the competition's top-tier teams this season.

"We're itching for a win. There is desperation in the group of the back of several losses," Hannay said.

There is plenty of resolve in the group and still plenty of energy and positivity, which is crucial when you're going through times like this."