Sharks star Shaun Johnson has backed under-fire boss John Morris after "disappointing" reports suggested the Cronulla coach would be moved on in favour of Roosters assistant Craig Fitzgibbon.
The Daily Telegraph's Phil Rothfield reported over the weekend that Morris had "virtually no chance" of retaining his position for the 2022 season.
Further reports have revealed that Sharks powerbrokers are set to meet with Morris' management on Monday, while a three-year deal has been tabled to Fitzgibbon, per The Sydney Morning Herald.
Morris took over the reigns of Shane Flanagan in hasty fashion back in 2019 and has taken the Sharks to top-eight finishes across his two seasons at the Shire, whilst showing plenty of promise in developing young rookies into household names.
Pressure is mounting on the Sharks to re-sign John Morris, but there is no need to be hasty. https://t.co/OayPRbJdIv
— ZeroTackle.com (@zerotackle) April 9, 2021
Many believe that the pressure mounted onto Morris is unjust given the difficulty of his tenure to date and the stranglehold already placed on the club's salary, with Johnson echoing those thoughts on Fox League.
“I think everyone that’s aware of the situation would definitely be feeling the same about it,” he said.
“I look at the facts, bro. I don’t know how you can have a coach who has been thrown in at the deep end right at the start.
“He had to take over a difficult situation at the star with Flanagan leaving.
“He’s gone after it, taken the side to the finals the last two years and finds himself in the position he is now. It’s disappointing, certainly disappointing."
Johnson is one of 15 Cronulla players that are off-contract for next season, joining Matt Moylan, Will Kennedy, Connor Tracey, Toby Rudolf, Aaron Woods and Josh Dugan as key figures that are yet to sign extensions with the Sharks.
While the veteran Kiwi is yet to make a decision on his future, he stated there would be a desire to continue playing under the club's 300-game great.
“If I was at the club next year I’d love Bomber [Morris] to be around.
“For me personally, he has definitely brought a better version of myself out.
“Coming over from New Zealand, what I got with Bomber was someone who believed in me and he pushed me every day.
“We would have open conversations, it’s selfish of me saying he should stay on in any capacity, but I think he’s beyond that.
“He hasn’t had any control over the roster, he’s been in a situation where our cap has been shot the last couple of years and he’s made do with what he’s got.
“He’s got us all on board, so I genuinely can’t speak highly enough of him."
Reports late last year revealed Morris had put forward a contract extension request to Sharks directors, a plea that was shut down by powerbrokers.
The Sharks currently sit ninth in the league with a 2-3 start to the year after playing the Dragons, Raiders, Eels, Cowboys and Roosters.
Cronulla will be looking for their third win of the season when they travel to McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.