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Why Joey is predicting pain for Cronulla fans

Sporting News logo Sporting News 20/02/2017

Andrew Johns. © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images Andrew Johns. It's only taken one game to underline it, but league Immortal Andrew Johns has warned Cronulla fans they could be headed for plenty of pain as their club looks to replace grand final heroes Ben Barba and Michael Ennis.

Johns watched the Sharks' World Club Challenge defeat to Wigan and believes the loss of Ennis, in particular, will hit the premiers hard.

That's despite young Jayden Brailey doing a good job in his first hit-out in top company.

"It's hard to replace a player of the experience of Michael Ennis," Johns told Channel 9.

"Defensively he did so much work around the middle of the ruck (and) it's a big step up from the under-20s for Jayden Brailey.

"And we all know what a year Ben Barba had last year. They've got to fill those positions."

Parramatta great Peter Sterling agrees with Johns, declaring: "Michael Ennis' competitive nature is infectious among the players and that was always going to be a huge hole to fill.

"He's got plenty of talent this young player (Brailey) but you can’t expect him to come in and do what Michael Ennis has been doing for a long, long time.

"It will take a while to happen."

No way through for Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks' Andrew Fifita as he's tackled by Wigan Warriors' Taulima Tauta during the World Club Challenge. © Getty Images No way through for Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks' Andrew Fifita as he's tackled by Wigan Warriors' Taulima Tauta during the World Club Challenge. Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan recognises Ennis is a big loss but was rapt in Brailey's debut performance.

"I thought he was outstanding. To come into an environment like this in front of a full house in a World Club Challenge and make your debut in the middle, it's a fair ask," Flanagan said.

"He is going to be a good player and playing against Test footballers in that environment is going to be good for him."

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