J-Moz secures Roosters transfer
CRONULLA will release veteran centre Josh Morris to the Sydney Roosters after Saturday night's game against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, ending a month-long stand-off over his future.
The original plan to hold the Blues State of Origin star until after round five has been fast-tracked four weeks to ease the Sharks' salary cap problems.
An announcement on Morris joining the Roosters is expected to be made next Monday.
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As part of the deal the Roosters will pay the Sharks a $75,000 transfer fee.
It means Morris will line up against his Sharks teammates in round five.
Cronulla decided not to hold onto Morris for any longer because of their salary cap problems.
Paying him another month would have put further pressure on their cap.
Morris' departure will leave the Sharks with only 28 players. They need 30 by June 30.
However there is talk the Roosters may also release middle forward Poasa Faamausili to the Sharks for one season.
They would also promote a development squad player to the top 30.
The Sharks softened their stance on keeping Morris when veteran Josh Dugan returned to training last week and declared himself available to play in the early rounds.
The Roosters will have two sets of twins brothers at Moore Park, with the Morris boys joining Kiwi youngsters Moala and Lani Graham-Taufa
Morris recently revealed why he wanted out.
"I spoke to the boys at Cronulla and I know the timing isn't ideal. It's not because I'm unhappy with any of the boys at the Sharks," Morris said.
"But this is a unique opportunity. My brother isn't just any old mate, this is the bloke who I started this journey with.
"From the time we were little playing hundreds of hours of footy in the backyard and then coming through the grades.
"We were lucky enough to play for NSW and Australia together even though we weren't in the same side.
"Then we were lucky enough to play at the Bulldogs together. Ultimately there were some salary cap issues there and we had to move on.
"We thought then that was probably the last opportunity to play alongside one another.
"Now another opportunity has presented itself and I'd regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't try and make it happen."
Morris' hopes of joining brother Brett at the Roosters were hinging on a Cronulla board meeting on Tuesday.
There were suggestions the Sharks would prefer to hold off releasing Morris until after their round five clash against the Roosters.
But the Roosters want the veteran centre to be made available by next week, and if they were made to hold off longer there is a chance the deal could fall through.
Making Morris' situation more uncomfortable was the fact that he was told late last season he would be free to find a new club in 2020 because the Sharks had salary cap troubles.
It is understood Morris' agent David Riolo was notified of this by the Sharks.
That was also when the Sharks were in negotiations to bring Jesse Ramien back to the club, while young Bronson Xerri was always going to be the other centre.
That what later led to the Roosters showing interest after young centre Billy Smith suffered a long-term knee injury during pre-season that opened an opportunity for Morris to reunite with his twin brother.
It's understood coach John Morris wanted to keep Josh, although some of the board were keen to get the deal done with the Roosters.
Under NRL guidelines, Riolo was only free to negotiate with the Roosters because he had the Sharks' blessing.
Brett Morris said he was still hoping to reunite with his brother but said Josh would handle himself professionally regardless, as his pre-season form has shown.
He said the most difficult thing for Josh now would be leaving the Sharks players.
"He has worked hard with those bunch of guys over there at Cronulla and I think it would be hard to just get up and walk away from that," Brett said.
"In saying that, Josh has been around rugby league a long time now.
"He knows defensive structures. He knows attacking structures. I don't think it would take him too long to transition over here at all."
Brett said Josh would find comfort in the fact he was at least now back playing football.
"When you are out on the field (in rugby league) that is your escape," Brett said.
"You don't have time to think about what is happening off the field."
Brett said he never expected he would ever get the chance to play with Josh at NRL level again after they left the Bulldogs at the end of 2018.
"To be honest it never even crossed my mind," he said. "I just thought that would have been it."
If Morris doesn't get a release, Brett said Angus Crichton would be more than capable of taking over from Latrell Mitchell at left centre this season.
"He is a guy who wants to learn more each week. Centre is a tough position but Gussy is a tough guy," Brett said.
"Defensively he is one of those guys that you probably don't want to run at. He's sat a couple of blokes on their backsides in the pre-season already."