Fifita faces battle to regain spot but not being forced out of club: Morris

Cronulla coach John Morris has not been asked by Andrew Fifita or his management for a release to join St George Illawarra so he's not concerned about what he views as media speculation.

Fifita was linked to the Dragons on Tuesday after Morris left the premiership-winning prop out of his game-day 17 for a third consecutive week.

Dragons coach Anthony Griffin was coy on the club's interest in Fifita when pressed on Thursday, while Morris insists he had no knowledge the Sharks prop was interested in moving on.

"It's all speculation as far as I can see," Morris said on Friday.

"We've had no approach from Andrew or his management so I'm not going to get drawn into any comment."

Fifita isn't off contract at the Sharks until the end of the 2022 season but faces an uphill battle to get back into Morris's middle forward rotation.

The 31-year-old international hasn't been named for Cronulla's feeder team Newtown against the Eels this weekend but is expected to be a late inclusion for the NRL curtain-raiser.

Fifita started the season in the second-tier competition strongly earlier this month with 208 running metres from 23 carries, which included eight tackle busts.

However, the Jets' round-two game against Newcastle was postponed due to Sydney's torrential weather last weekend.

"Andrew wants to get back out on the field and do whatever it takes to do that," Morris said.

"He knows the parts of his game he needs to work on and he'll get another chance this weekend to hopefully push for a spot."

The Sharks are in the midst of a six-day turnaround before their clash with the Eels at Bankwest Stadium following Sunday's two-point loss to the Raiders.

Morris said Sharks playmaker Chad Townsend had "bounced back" nicely during training after missing two goals late in the narrow defeat.

"He'll flush it and move onto the next kick," Morris said.

"He kicked 10 or 11 from 12 in his session this week so that shows to me he's let go of it."

Meanwhile, Morris spoke candidly for the first time since Bronson Xerri's four-year ban for performance-enhancing drug use was confirmed earlier this week.

The Sharks coach said Xerri would receive appropriate support from the club and backed the 20-year-old to play in the NRL again when his ban expires ahead of the 2024 season.

"We haven't heard Bronson's story yet and it's just unfortunate," Morris said.

"You don't want any young player or athlete to find themselves in that predicament with a positive test.

"We can't make any judgements on how or why it happened but it breaks your heart.

"The outcome we got earlier in the week allows Bronson to move forward and start to count the days until he can come back. I've got no doubt in my mind he'll be back."

Morris said the club had "prepared for the worst to happen" with Xerri from a roster perspective.

"We've got two spots in our 30 so we'll just monitor that and see if we're a bit short if we can bring someone in," he said.