NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 02: Shaun Johnson of the Cronulla Sharks during the NRL Trial match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Newcastle Knights on March 02, 2019 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

The Cronulla Sharks have told Shaun Johnson, Josh Dugan and Aaron Woods that their services will not be required in the shire in 2022.

According to veteran scribe Phil 'Buzz' Rothfield, the axing of the three highly-paid stars has reportedly freed up $2 million of salary cap space.

Rothfield also stated that in-coming Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon informed the three former internationals of the club's decision within the last 24 hours, giving them ample time to find new clubs for next season.

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It has been reported that the Canberra Raiders are ready to pounce on Johnson as a replacement for departed half-back George Williams

The players spoke to their teammates at training on Thursday afternoon to inform them of the developments.

In alternate moves, the Sharks have signed highly-regarded Melbourne Storm utility Nicho Hynes and St George-Illawarra utility forward Cameron McInnes, with Matt Moylan poised to partner Hynes in the halves for Cronulla.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 25: Nicho Hynes of the Storm offloads the ball during the round three NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Melbourne Storm at Panthers Stadium on March 25, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

 

Negotiations between Cronulla and Moylan  regarding an extension are reportedly underway , as it’s anticipated that Moylan, 29, will be offered a 12-month contract to stay at the Sharks and partner Hynes, 24, next season. 

Hynes was targeted by Fitzgibbon to play halfback at the Sharks having played the majority of his junior football as a playmaker.

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Rothfield also explained that Moylan, who has played 10 of 12 matches this year, has spoken with Sharks officials about wanting to finish his career at Cronulla and how eager he is to be part of the club’s rebuild.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Matthew Moylan of the Sharks runs the ball during the NRL Semi Final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium on September 14, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

 

Moylan’s contract offer will be similar to what the club was originally planning to offer Johnson. However, those talks broke down after the Sharks were unwilling to give the Kiwi international and his management the two-year-deal worth around $1.2 million that they were supposedly asking for.

Johnson has also been linked to a switch to rugby union and would follow compatriot Roger Tuivasa-Scheck down the same path if this remains his current thought process