In some devastating news for Shaun Johnson and the Sharks, the game against the Bulldogs on Sunday was his last in Cronulla colours.
Johnson was at his attacking best in the first half in helping the Sharks open up a commanding lead, until a hamstring tear saw him limp from field.
Subsequent scans and further assessment of the injury has revealed substantial damage to the hamstring, with Sharks Head of Performance Nathan Pickworth delivering the news that Johnson has played his last game at the club.
“He has suffered a high grade hamstring tendon injury and unfortunately the injury will result in Shaun not being able to return to play in the 2021 season,” Pickworth said.
Sharks coach Josh Hannay in confirming the injury diagnosis and that sadly Johnson’s career at the Cronulla club has come to an end, praised his experienced playmaker for his efforts and contribution over the last three years.
“Shaun is disappointed and we’re disappointed for him. It’s a tragic, season-ending injury,” Hannay said. “It’s not the way he wanted to end his time here at the Sharks and it’s a reminder you don't always get the fairytale ending. Shaun was devastated when he got that news.
“He is a pro and a gentleman, he's a credit to himself and he's been a wonderful ambassador for the game throughout his career, a wonderful ambassador for Cronulla.
"The way he carries himself, he's a favourite amongst kids, kid look up to him and working with him this year has been a real privilege,” Hannay added.
While Sharks CEO Dino Mezzatesta, in his monthly members update for July, also paid tribute to Johnson.
“No doubt this isn't the way Shaun would have liked to end his time at the Sharks and we thank him for his contribution over three seasons at our Club. He was a fan favourite, will forever be in our history books as the inaugural winner of the Porter-Gallen Medal and he leaves us with some wonderful memories,” Mezzatesta said.
The Kiwi international joined the Sharks at the start of the 2019 season and has gone on to play 44 games at Cronulla, kicking 119 goals and scoring six tries. In all Johnson has played 206 games in the NRL after making his top grade debut in 2011 at the Warriors, the club he will rejoin next season.
Johnson led the NRL in try assists in 2020 during an outstanding season and was awarded the Porter-Gallen Medal as the Sharks player of the year.
He has commenced his rehab in the Sharks Brisbane hub, with the Club medical staff to work with Johnson on his recovery before his return to the Warriors next year.
In other Sharks injury news, Mawene Hiroti underwent surgery on a broken hand this week and faces an extended period on the sideline, youngster Teig Wilton is out of action for a couple of weeks with a hamstring strain, while Matt Moylan appears likely to miss this weekend's match against Manly with hope that he can return to the field in round 21.