NRL 2019: Sharks playmaker Shaun Johnson avoids axe for Storm clash

Cronulla five-eighth Shaun Johnson.
Cronulla five-eighth Shaun Johnson. Photo credit: AAP

Cronulla five-eighth Shaun Johnson has been spared the axe and will face Melbourne this week, despite a lacklustre month in the No.6 jumper.

Johnson has come under fire for not living up to his million-dollar billing this NRL season, with the star New Zealand recruit copping the brunt of three straight losses.          

But he's kept his spot in the Sharks' halves alongside Chad Townsend and will look to utilise prop Andrew Fifita who returns from suspension. Cronulla enforcer Paul Gallen is out injured.   

His including comes days after former Sharks forward Luke Lewis said he should be dropped for Kyle Flanagan. 

"It's going to be hard for a coach to say, 'we've got a million-dollar player, we can't play him in first grade', but I think [Morris] is going to have to make that big decision and probably put him back there," Lewis told ABC podcast Winning Starts.

"[Morris should] say, 'mate I want you in first grade, but you need to find some confidence going into the next couple of weeks'.

"I think they really have to give him a rocket and say, 'we need you at your best and if you can't, we're going to play this young kid in Kyle Flanagan'. It's hard to swallow, but I think that's the reality.

"I believe Kyle Flanagan really suits Chad Townsend. His [Townsend] game management has probably gone backwards a little bit since Shaun's comeback, purely because Shaun is a dominant player."

Meanwhile, the Storm have named six players, including Cameron Munster and Josh Addo-Carr, to back up from State of Origin on Wednesday and play in skipper Cameron Smith's 400th NRL game.      

AAP

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