NRL 2021: Injured Kiwis star Shaun Johnson named for 200th first-grade appearance

NZ Kiwis star Shaun Johnson has been named - again - to make his 200th NRL appearance for Cronulla Sharks against Gold Coast Titans on Sunday.

But while he has been included in the Sharks starting line-up at Coffs Harbour, he must still prove his fitness, after missing two games with a hamstring injury suffered against Penrith earlier this month.

Johnson, 30, was tentatively named for both subsequent rounds against South Sydney and St George, but could not take his place in the gameday squad.

The former NZ Warriors half played 162 of his first-grade matches over eight seasons at Mt Smart Stadium, before crossing the Tasman to hook up with Cronulla. He missed the tail-end of last season, after snapping an Achilles tendon, and only returned from that injury in the seventh round of the current campaign.

Last time Johnson faced the Titans, he had Kiwis teammate Kevin Proctor sent off for biting him in a tackle - Proctor was later suspended for four matches.

Other notable NZ first-grade selections this week include:

  • Northlander Caleb Aekins seems embedded at fullback for the Canberra Raiders, with news that fellow Kiwi Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad will likely miss the rest of the season, after neck surgery.
  • Also for the Raiders, Kiwis wing Jordan Rapana will return from two weeks sidelined by a dodgy hamstring. 
  • Wellington-born teenager TC Robati has been named for his NRL debut off the bench for Brisbane Broncos against Melbourne Storm. The 1.83m/105kg second-rower was 18th man against Sydney Roosters last week.
  • Kiwis half Jahrome Hughes seems likely to return to the Storm against the Broncos, after a calf niggle forced his late withdrawal against Canberra Raiders. Fellow NZ international Kenny Bromwich is at least another week away with a hamstring complaint.
  • Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak seems ready to  take his place at fullback for Canterbury Bulldogs, despite picking up a foot injury against Gold Coast.

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