Sharks skipper Wade Graham has defended the club's decision to not renew the contracts of Shaun Johnson, Josh Dugan and Aaron Woods.

The Sharks this week told the experienced trio that their contracts would not be renewed for the 2022 season.

Graham spoke on Fox League’s Friday Night Footy and said he felt for the trio but backed the club's decision to look to the future.

“It’s a tough one. It’s always a hard situation when those sorts of decisions are made,” Graham said.

“I think the reality is we did have a lot of guys off contract and we would never be able to keep everyone. But with those guys, certainly the way I look at it, is bad news is better than no news.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 27: Wade Graham of the Sharks in action during the round 12 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Cronulla Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on May 27, 2018 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

“Once the club made a decision, they were upfront, they let the players know and now their focus can be on the final part of the season and hopefully secure their future somewhere else while playing some good footy for the Sharks.”

Sharks premiership player and media commentator Michael Ennis also stood by the club's decision and said they did the right thing telling the players so early in the season.

“I like that those guys have been given such clarity at this point in the season and the opportunity to secure their services somewhere else,” he said.

“I think for me, Aaron Woods has struggled since the introduction of the rule changes.

Shaun Johnson was always an interesting signing at the time, I think his attacking prowess has brought so much spark but I just didn’t see him as that Cronulla type player.

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)

“I think Shane Flanagan originally signed him from the Warriors knowing what attack he brought to the club but I also think he also wanted to see Shaun to fit into that Cronulla way. I don’t think he’s done that.

“And Josh Dugan just hasn’t played enough footy and played at the level that I think he was signed at.

“Obviously a tough call but I think those players will certainly pick up a deals somewhere else but it’s a great opportunity with the amount of money that’s freed up for the Cronulla Sharks to really build a strong roster moving forward.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: Nicho Hynes of the Storm is tackled during the round eight NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla Sharks at AAMI Park on April 30, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The decision to let three high-profile players go at season's end comes after the Sharks secured Nicho Hynes from the Melbourne Storm on a deal that will see him at the Shire for the next three years.


  1. Out goes Dugan (900k), Woods (650k?) Johnson (1M) and Fifita (800k)
    Total: 3.35m

    In comes Nico Hynes (500k), Kyle Flanagan, Braidon Burns, Josh Curran, Martin Taupau (550k*) Dale Finucane (650k*) and Tesi Niu
    *numbers just estimates

    1. Kennedy
    2. Katoa
    3. Burns
    4. Ramien
    5. Mulitalo
    6. Hynes
    7. Flanagan
    8. Finucane
    9. Brailey
    10. Taupau
    11. Graham
    12. Nikora
    13. McInnes

    14. Tracey/Moylan
    15. Hamlin-Uele
    16. Rudolf
    17. Talakai/Wilton/Curran/Pele

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