Sharks’ depth tested before NRL finals

Cronulla will be forced to dig into halves reserves this week after star Shaun Johnson suffered a suspected ruptured Achilles that will end his NRL season.

On Sunday morning the club is expected to confirm initial concerns which forced Johnson from the field in a 34-18 loss to Sydney Roosters.

And just two weeks out from the finals, it’s a less than ideal scenario for the eighth-placed side.

With Johnson sidelined and Chad Townsend suspended until week one of the finals, Sharks coach John Morris will be forced to find back up against Canberra on Saturday afternoon.

The job is likely to fall to Connor Tracey who has deputised since Townsend was sent off for a hit on Kalyn Ponga in round 17.

However, returning skipper Wade Graham is also an option in the halves given his ball-playing ability and the need for Sharks to make a statement against the Raiders.

“Obviously Braydon Trindall as done a good job, Connor’s been doing a fantastic job for us and he’ll compete hard for you,” Morris said of his halves options.

“Wade Graham comes back into the side so he brings a skillset that he could go there as well, he’s played there before with State of Origin so I may look to bring Wade into the play there.

“We’re pretty wounded at the moment, not just those three, there’s a number of guys there with ice packs on.

“We just need to lick our wounds and dust ourselves off and get a healthy 17 together and get going again.

“It’s been a fantastic effort to put ourselves in this position so we need to make sure this doesn’t put too much of a dent in our confidence.”

The Sharks are assured a place in the finals after a gutsy win over the Warriors in round 18 shored up their place.

However, they have not yet beaten a current top eight side this season.

Morris wanted to make a statement against the Roosters on Saturday night but he’ll settle for next week against the Raiders.

“I wanted us to come here and put in a really solid performance just to get the belief and momentum,” he said.

“I thought we found it last week, it was a high pressure game last week for us to cement our spot and turn the Warriors away.

“Emotionally the guys were really up for that last week, played really well but the Roosters turned up tonight to play for Mitch Aubusson.

“We don’t take out of the game what I was hoping to.

“A week is a long time in footy and you can get it back going again pretty quick hopefully.”

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