AAP Rugby

Sharks eager for Johnson to get tested

By AAP Newswire

Cronulla coach John Morris insists he has no hesitation in allowing star Shaun Johnson to play for New Zealand next week despite just returning from injury.

Making his first appearance since hurting his hamstring in round seven, Johnson set up a try in a solid performance during Thursday's NRL loss to Canberra.

The only negative were the two goals he missed from his four attempts, which ultimately proved costly in the thrilling two-point defeat.

It was also the second game back for co-captain Wade Graham.

"He's got to get his timing back, Shauny," Morris said.

"He's another one who's worked hard on his recovery and they're nowhere near they're best, those two.

"But we've just got to get them going and hopefully they can continue to build their combinations. Those two haven't even played together.

"That was their first game tonight, Shaun and Wade.

"Shaun showed some nice touches on the right there setting up Josh Dugan, and found his way into the game okay."

Johnson's return to action came on the same day as his selection in a 27-man New Zealand squad for next week's Test match against Tonga in Auckland.

Rookie second-rower Briton Nikora was also included for a possible Test debut.

Morris may have been reluctant to risk Johnson in what is likely to be a brutal encounter, however has welcomed the extra match fitness for his playmaker.

"Fingers crossed he makes that team. He's had an outstanding year. Really proud of those two guys," Morris said.

"I know what it means to them to represent their country.

"(The Test) didn't come into our reckoning at all in bringing Shaun back tonight. I think it'll be good for him actually to get a game in next week.

"He's missed the last six weeks. No need for him to have another week off. He may as well play. Hopefully he goes and comes back with a spring in his step."