Recurring injuries made for an average season for a terrific team on paper.
2020 Club Record
Competition Points: 20
2020 Player Achievements
Most Tries: Sione Kato (16)
Most Points: Shaun Johnson (120)
Nothing says average like the way the Cronulla Sharks finished their 2020 season. Eighth place; 10 wins, 10 losses, 480 points for, 480 points against. This season looked to be a promising one for the Sharks, who have a great team on paper. An unfortunate amount of injuries have, however, caused issues in solidifying their line up to gain momentum and be consistent throughout the season, particularly in their push to the finals.
Cronulla had a slow start to their season, not winning their first game until the fourth round. Of course, there was a two-month gap between rounds two and three due to the COVID-19 restrictions, forcing the suspension of the NRL competition.
10 wins and 10 losses in a total of 20 games for the year. Their best and highest-scoring game of the year was in round ten against the Warriors, where they won 46 points to 10. This was the beginning of a three-game winning streak where they showed the most potential to be a strong contender later on in the year. Nevertheless, after their seemingly promising winning streak, they just about finished the season going win-loss-win-loss until they were eliminated by the Raiders.
Had the Sharks been luckier with injuries and players leaving, their chances of a better position in the top eight and their luck in the finals may have been different. They lost Bronson Xerri prior to the season starting, then Josh Morris early in the season who left for the Sydney Roosters. Rumour had it that Josh Dugan wanted to medically retire due to recurring injuries, however, he played on for the season. It must be said that he was strong in all the games that he played.
Another player missing for a large part of the season was Penrith recruit Matt Moylan. A persistent hamstring injury found him on the sidelines for all but eight games throughout the season. When he did play his confidence was definitely impacted and he struggled for top form. He played his last game of the season in round 15 against his debut club – a game where the Sharks suffered a 26 point loss. After this, Cronulla won just two games in their push to the finals series before being eliminated in the first week.
Their best player in 2020, Shaun Johnson, also suffered an injury at the most unfortunate time for Cronulla. He missed the final two games for the year, elimination final included, after suffering a ruptured achilles tendon.
After only just making it into the top eight, they let their finals hopes slip in the first week in an elimination final against the Canberra Raiders. Their second game and loss against them in two weeks. The Sharks scored two consecutive tries to get themselves ahead before letting Canberra dominate the second half and win, putting an end to the Sharks’ season. It was a disappointing finish to a lacklustre season for the Cronulla Sharks.
The Sharks’ disrupted season had one benefit. They were able to debut a number of new players, relying heavily on players who played for the Newtown Jets in the New South Wales Cup Competition in 2019. The experience these players have attained at the highest level can only benefit them in 2021. Players like Toby Rudolf, Siosifa Talakai and Sione Katoa were consistently outstanding in their performances for Cronulla. Other players in key positions such as William Kennedy, Braydon Trindall and Connor Tracey will also benefit from competing against players of high quality.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
Shaun Johnson. The New Zealand recruit was easily the Sharks’ best for the year, leading the competition in try assists with 23, and the leading Sharks’ player in Dally M points. He had a very consistent season and created dangerous combinations on both the left and right side of the field, certainly contributing to Cronulla scoring the fifth-highest amount of points in the competition (480). His season-ending achilles injury against the Roosters all but ended the Sharks’ chances of making an impression in the finals. Although he will miss the early stages of 2021, it is important that a fit Shaun Johnson plays a majority of the Sharks’ games.
2021 GAINS AND LOSSES
Aidan Tolman (Bulldogs)
Jayson Bukuya (retired), Cameron King (retired)