Criticism may come with the territory when you’re a big-name playmaker but Cronulla captain Wade Graham thinks Shaun Johnson is being unfairly singled out.
Champion halfback Cooper Cronk lashed the New Zealand international after Saturday’s NRL win by the Sharks over North Queensland in Townsville, accusing Johnson of “firing blanks” in his time with the club.
Cronk’s criticism came despite Johnson providing two try assists in the win over the Cowboys as the Sharks opened their account for 2020.
“He can be the best player in the world but he just doesn’t deliver enough for me,” Cronk told Fox Sports, highlighting two shanked kicks late in the game that could have proven costly.
Ex-Sharks captain Paul Gallen has also queried if Johnson is the best fit for the team with Matt Moylan’s battered body struggling to make an impact at fullback.
Graham however believes Johnson’s struggles are more a reflection of the team as a whole, saying the whole unit needs to find consistency, not just the 2014 Golden Boot winner.
“If you play in the halves and you do earn good money, well I think if things don’t go well for your team you are the first in the firing line,” Graham said.
“That’s always been the way of it in rugby league … it’s part of the job description if you are in a key position and you do have a good salary.
“At the end of the day, 17 players run out there. No single person should wear the brunt of all the criticism. It’s a team game … and for us we haven’t been good enough as a team, consistently.
“We have shown glimpses of what we can produce but it’s more about putting those quality moments for longer in games and getting the results.”