Cronulla coach John Morris urging Shaun Johnson to fill Valentine Holmes’ NRL void

“I think what he brings to the side is a bit of X-factor which we lost with Val,” Morris said of Johnson.

“(I’ll tell him) just to get into the game and get his hands on the ball, take the line on and guide the boys around the park.


“He’s the perfect pick-up for us because he allows Matty (Moylan) to go back to fullback and both have that unstructured style of footy.”

Called on to do the organising for much of his Warriors career, Johnson will be freed up in the No.6 jersey with Chad Townsend maintaining control of the Sharks’ attack.

The pair have already played together in two seasons at the Warriors, winning 18 of 34 games alongside each other when Townsend was a far less experienced first-grader.

Meanwhile, new coach Morris will debut two of his former under-20 players in Blayke Brailey and second-rower Briton Nikora on Friday night.

“He’s ready,” Morris said when asked about Brailey.

“He’s done everything in the game, he’s a junior Roo, he’s come right through our system as a local junior since Harold Matts (under-16s).

“He’s a great kid, he’s exactly like (his brother) Jayden. Very coachable and works very hard on his game every training session.

“He’s going to be very capable to fill that spot (against Newcastle) and I’m stoked to be able to hand that jersey to him.”


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