Despite guiding the club to a top eight finish in both of his first two seasons at the helm, Cronulla gave their former player the flick early last season due to a lack of ability to beat the top sides.
The Sharks didn't beat a single side that finished in the top eight that season, or in Morris' last 20 months as head coach. Their last 'big scalp' under the veteran player was a 39-24 victory in August 2019 - ironically coming against South Sydney, the same club that beat Morris 18-0 in his 300th and final NRL game.
Of the 17 players named to line-up for the Sharks in Saturday night's sudden-death match, Morris has signed or coached 11 of them, and has his fingerprints all over this side.
While Craig Fitzgibbon reaps the rewards of the seeds Morris planted, the former head coach joined South Sydney as Jason Demetriou's right hand man, helping the Rabbitohs with the defensive side of their game.
Now facing the Sharks in an elimination match, a host of Rabbitohs players realise the effect Morris has had on a playing group, and how advantageous he is leading into the game.
“Coming from the Cronulla Sharks, he knows their systems, it’s a little advantage there,” prop Junior Tatola The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Bomber has been good for us, he takes our defence. He’s been massive, he’s helping everyone out, we’re all doing video with him.”
Fellow front-rower Mark Nicholls echoed Tatola's statements ahead of what could be his final game as a Rabbitoh before joining the Dolphins in 2023.
“Johnny has been really good for us. We’ve improved that part of our game in the back end of the year.
“As a team we know how many points are in us and if we lose it’s off the back of our defence. He’s been really good for us and like anyone, I’m sure he wants to win against his old club.”
There is a strong scent of South Sydney etched through the Cronulla squad, with Siosifa Talakai, Cameron McInnes and Connor Tracey all making their NRL debut at the Rabbitohs, while cult-hero Toby Rudolf played his Holden Cup career at the club as well as a season in NSW Cup before a Queensland Cup stint Redcliffe that preceded his arrival in Cronulla.