AAP Rugby

Sharks should hire kicking coach: Johnson

By AAP Newswire

Cronulla star Shaun Johnson has implored the NRL club to look at fixing their goalkicking woes by hiring a specialist coach for next season.

Johnson admits his injury-riddled campaign has prevented him from putting in the hours with the kicking tee during his first year in the Shire.

And it's resulted in a decline in his career percentages, going from 75 per cent at the start of the season to 71 ahead of Sunday's clash with St George Illawarra.

But Johnson also attributed part of his struggles to being without the expert guidance of Daryl Halligan, who coached Johnson for most of his career.

"It's funny ... my mentality around my goalkicking's never changed. I feel confident taking every kick," Johnson said on Thursday.

"If I missed a kick, depending on how I'd miss it, it would confuse me a little bit.

"This is the first year I haven't had a kicking coach to work with.

"So I've been trying to figure it out myself."

Widely considered the pre-eminent goalkicker of his generation, Halligan is believed to be employed by at least four clubs across the league.

However, the Sharks are not one of them, having relied on a consultant in previous years to help the likes of Valentine Holmes and Chad Townsend.

This year they went without.

Halligan was spotted at Penrith's captain's run on Thursday working with Nathan Cleary, who kicked a perfect five from five in last week's upset of the Sharks.

Johnson nailed just two from four in the blistery conditions.

"I've worked with Daryl most of my career, but this year I haven't been able to. It's me trying to figure it out myself and having little conversations with people here and there," Johnson said.

"I (also) wasn't able to practice much obviously with my body and how it was feeling. But certainly that didn't affect my confidence going into kicking.

"I've kicked for a number of years now. It's something I enjoy doing. I realise I'm going to miss a few, but hopefully I get more than I miss."

Johnson's strike rate is still superior to Townsend's 66 per cent, as well as back-up playmaker Kyle Flanagan (68) and Josh Dugan (56).

Holmes, the man Johnson replaced, left the Sharks with a 74 per cent rate.

Goalkicking has proven to be an Achilles heel for the Sharks this season, having lost four games despite scoring at least as many tries as their opposition.

"We've pretty much got a coach in every other aspect of the game. I don't see why we shouldn't have one in goalkicking, that's for sure," Johnson said.

"Two points, it's proven for us, it's been very important at times. Hopefully it's something we can look into in the future."