Monday Buzz: Meeting that could send Shark to Roosters
Spare a thought for Cronulla Sharks coach John Morris as he contemplates releasing centre Josh Morris to the Sydney Roosters at a recruitment meeting on Tuesday.
Morris has inherited a roster of big names but bad value from previous coach Shane Flanagan.
Josh Dugan $900k. Shaun Johnson $850k. Matt Moylan $750k. Andrew Fifita $780k.
Let's go through them all.
Dugan is the highest-paid player but wants to medically retire. The problem is the Sharks' medical experts can't find the injury that Dugan claims has been stopping him from training or playing.
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Moylan joined the Sharks from the Panthers in 2018 but has made little impact. Hamstring problems restricted him to only 11 games last year. When he did play, he was ordinary.
Andrew Fifita, after his 2016 grand final heroics, was regarded among the top three front-rowers in the NRL. Last year he battled knee injuries and a poor attitude.
Johnson joined the Sharks last year from the Warriors. It's been the same old story … the only consistency was his inconsistency.
To be successful, you need your "big five" in the salary cap to be performing.
Cronulla's other member of the big five, Wade Graham, played only 10 games last year because of injuries. He was desperately missed.
Now you look at other clubs to understand the importance of the biggest wage earners producing.
The Roosters' big five last year - James Tedesco, Cooper Cronk, Boyd Cordner, Luke Keary and Latrell Mitchell - all aimed up.
The Manly Sea Eagles - the Trbojevic brothers, Jake and Tom, Daly Cherry-Evans, Addin Fonua-Blake and Marty Taupau made outstanding contributions.
Like Jack Wighton and the big-money Poms did at the Canberra Raiders.
Every club needs a roster of 30 and great depth but if your highest-paid players are not producing, you're never going to be a serious premiership contender.
The Sharks are not on their own in this area.
The Titans' big five of Ash Taylor, Bryce Cartwright, Nathan Peats, Kevin Proctor and Ryan James (injured) didn't produce anything last year.
The Broncos? Darius Boyd, Anthony Milford, Jack Bird, Matt Gillett and Andrew McCullough. Enough said.
The situation at Cronulla is why coach Morris has been so reluctant to release player Morris to the Sydney Roosters.
If you were rebuilding a culture in the Shire, you would do it around three players … Graham, Chad Townsend and Josh Morris.
They are very experienced, level-headed and magnificent leaders.
You can't put Fifita, Dugan, Moylan or Johnson in the same leadership bracket.
For John Morris, it is a huge year and he needs to get the best out of them.
The Sharks have lost their home ground for two years. They have also lost the heartbeat of the club, Paul Gallen.
The backlash from fans will be enormous if Josh Morris goes and there are injury issues at fullback, centre or wing as the season progresses.
At the same time, no coach wants a player who doesn't want to be there. That's why coach Morris has been so torn.
At least Sunday's trial against Manly with several new faces was promising and hopefully a sign of things to come.