NRL Rd 9 - Sharks v Panthers
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 11: Shaun Johnson of the Sharks looks to pass the ball during the round nine NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on July 11, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Put simply, an overhaul.

Cronulla just hung on to 8th spot in 2020. After an up and down season, the Sharks started to find some consistency with Shaun Johnson playing at his exciting best. Cruelly, his achilles injury late in the season derailed any serious threat to their finals hopes.

The Sharks suffered last year when regular starters including Matt Moylan, Andrew Fifita, Josh Dugan, Chad Townsend and Bronson Xerri were either hampered by injury or suspended.

The release of Josh Morris to the Roosters at the beginning of the season and the unavailability of many players throughout the season was very unsettling to the squad.

The squad looks as they need an injection of new players. Much hope was put into the addition of Moylan, Johnson and Woods over the past few seasons without the returns expected.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 18: Matt Moylan of the Sharks leaves the field after been replaced during the round 22 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Shark Park on August 18, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Apart from the signing of veteran prop Aiden Tolman from the Bulldogs, the Sharks haven’t gone to the market to buy any recognised players to rejuvenate their squad.

Fifita has been such a weapon for many seasons, but has struggled with knee injuries and has been a shell of his former self in recent times. For Cronulla and the NRL, let’s hope he can get back to full fitness.

Perhaps the biggest issue for the Sharks is the continued rumours about coach John Morris’ future. Rumours of former premiership winning Cowboys coach Paul Green has been touted as a potential replacement for Morris for the 2022 season, which might be unsettling for the current Sharks coach.

If Morris were to be replaced it would be seen by many on the outside to be harsh. Morris took over as coach when premiership winning coach Shane Flanagan was forced to stand down for breaching NRL protocols.

He inherited Flanagan’s squad and has lost more players of talent than have been replaced. Yet despite losing good talent he has been able to guide the Sharks to the finals in his two years as coach.

So what could Morris achieve with an overhaul to his current squad? He goes into 2021 knowing his best player, Shaun Johnson, will be hampered by his recovery from injury and may not return in time to have any real impact.

With over a dozen players off-contract at seasons-end and with many players in doubt to be retained, season 2021 might be in danger of imploding before it even begins.

Matt Moylan has been shopped around to other clubs, with rumours suggesting other players have been told to move on to add to a fractious environment.

Although, all is not lost for the Sharks. The development of Ronaldo Mulitalo, Siosifa Talakai, Toby Rudolf, Connor Tracey, Blayke Brailey and Teig Wilton hold hope. If Morris and his squad can keep out the outside noise there is definitely enough talent to be competitive.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JULY 25: Ronaldo Mulitalo of the Sharks celebrates winning the round 19 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the North Queensland Cowboys at Shark Park on July 25, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Sharks should continue to make moves in the player market and bring in some new talent before the season begins. Fullback and five-eighth need to be covered if Moylan is to be moved on or have another injury plagued season.

I predict the Sharks will be competitive if they can keep Fifita, Wade Graham and Moylan fit and firing. If Cronulla start slowly and off-field dramas dominate the headlines, it may be a wasted year.