The Sharks are facing a serious salary cap squeeze.
Josh Morris, Matt Prior and Josh Dugan were told by Cronulla to explore their options last year as the Cronulla look to get under the salary cap before the June 30th deadline.
The Sharks are yet to complete their 30-man roster for the June 30th deadline and will have no choice at this rate but to sign a player in slots 27-30 worth $75,000 or a player in slots 1-26 worth at least $110,000, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
When that player eventually signs for the Sharks, Cronulla will move just above their cap – which has been reduced by $350,000 for salary cap breaches dating back to 2013.
As a result, the Sharks will either have to cut ties with a player or find a suitable trade before being able to sign another player.
Morris’ agent David Riolo described his client’s release request being blocked by the Sharks as a “slap in the face”.
“They have to move a player no matter what,” Riolo said. “It was the Sharks that told us to have a look around at the same time they said that to Matty Prior and a couple of other boys the same thing.
“Then they turn around and deny it. It’s a bit of a slap in the face.”
Morris continues to push for a release from the Sharks, but Riolo had not heard from the Sharks management in the last 48 hours.
Morris is on one of the best contracts in the NRL. He was consistently one of the best players in the team despite the Sharks being a disappointment in 2019 and is earning considerably less than Josh Dugan, who is on a contract near the $900,000 mark.
Dugan’s future at the Sharks is unclear with a continual knee complaint, while continual hamstring issues for Matt Moylan has left coach John Morris with little lenience in the outside backs department.
With Dugan and Moylan sidelined, Morris could start the season at fullback, a position he has not played since his debut season in 2007.
If Morris was to be released, the Sharks would be thin to replace Dugan and Moylan.
The Sharks are holding firm in their bid to keep Morris for the season ahead, but Morris has made it known of a clear desire to be released from the club in the days since returning from the NRL Nines.
The Roosters have been pushing to sign Morris before the season’s commencement but hope is starting to fade, especially due to the Moylan injury.