The Cronulla Sharks have told halfback Shaun Johnson that his services won’t be needed beyond the 2021 season, along with centre Josh Dugan and prop forward Aaron Woods.
These three players take up a total of $2 million worth of salary cap each year to underperform.
Shaun Johnson joined the Sharks in 2019 and has not lived up his million-dollar pay check but I will give the New Zealand halfback credit as every fan should after Johnson finished tied for first place in try assists in season 2020 with 23 try assists and the player he tied with is Jarome Luai from the Panthers.
The New Zealand halfback has only played four games in season 2021 after suffering a foot injury towards the back end of last season and Johnson has managed to force five goal-line drop outs, assist in two tries and two line break assists and average 280 kicking metres.
After Johnson was told he was no longer needed at the Sharks past season 2021, the South Sydney Rabbitohs became an early favourite to sign the unwanted Sharks halfback after Rabbitohs junior and premiership winner Adam Reynolds signed a three-year deal with the Brisbane Broncos.
When I saw Johnson linked to the Rabbitohs, I had mixed emotions but I have finally weighed up some pros and cons with the Rabbitohs possibly signing the Kiwi halfback. The one criticism Johnson has had in recent years is that he only has three or four good games a season.
I tend to agree with this but I will certainly back up Shaun Johnson because he has been a part of an average Sharks team in recent years and was obviously with the New Zealand Warriors but they have always been inconsistent with or without Johnson.
I would love to see Johnson wear that red and green jersey with the seven on his back, combining with players like Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell and Damien Cook. He would be playing on the side with centre Campbell Graham and second row forward Jaydn Su’A if he gets resigned and whoever will be on right wing for the Rabbitohs in season 2022.
I fully understand that Johnson does not have the kicking game that Reynolds does but Johnson proved that he can set up and score points in attack in season 2020 although his defence has been a big question mark over the halfback.
Not many other high quality halfbacks are currently available to sign in the free market but the Rabbitohs can reach into their junior grade side and can grab players Dean Hawkins, Troy Dargan or Blake Taaffe, who can all play halfback.
Johnson would flourish in a good attacking and defensive team like the Rabbitohs, which can really free up Johnson, which could be really dangerous for the opposing sides coming up against the red and green.