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Cronulla coach John Morris is open to bringing Jesse Ramien back to the Sharks but concedes salary cap constraints may provide an immovable roadblock.

After leaving his debut NRL club to join Newcastle this year, a disgruntled Ramien was granted permission to negotiate with rival teams on Thursday.

Morris coached the tackle-busting centre in Cronulla's under-20s side when they won the minor premiership in 2017 and holds the 22-year-old in high regard.

But the Sharks could struggle to accommodate Ramien given $353,500 has been shaved off their 2020 salary cap as part of the sanctions imposed in the pre-season for historical cap breaches.

"I've got a soft spot for Jesse. I remember pushing hard to sign him from Manly in 2016 out of the 20s and then he spent some time with me in the Holden Cup," Morris told

"I was certainly devastated when he left but I'm not sure about his situation at the moment. I'm also realistic that we've got a salary cap problem that we've got to continue to manage as well.

"I'll wait and see what his intentions are but he was someone that we certainly didn't want to see leave the club."

Sharks v Rabbitohs - Round 20

Cronulla have an abundance of quality centre options with veterans Josh Morris and Josh Dugan and rising star Bronson Xerri under contract for 2020.

Morris wouldn't discuss the possibility of releasing someone to fit Ramien into the squad.

"I'm not going to make any comments about moving people to bring him back, because as I said we're managing our way through our salary cap and that's a constant juggle as it is," he said.

Sharks finally full-strength

"We just need to focus on this year and monitor what's going on there with Jesse."

Knights coach Nathan Brown denied rumblings that he and Ramien had fallen out, telling reporters on Friday the call to allow the Coonamble junior to walk was based on his overall happiness.

"The reality is I made a decision with three or four other very key people in the club that Jesse wasn't happy at our football club so it's in his best interests not to be here," Brown said.

"You won't find any of the playing group, any of the staff saying anything negative about Jesse - he's a decent young kid and I'd be surprised and disappointed if Jesse said something untoward about us."

The Sharks sit two points outside the top eight and Saturday's clash against the second-placed Rabbitohs at PointsBet Stadium is a mighty challenge.

Morris admitted it was "fair to say" Cronulla's finals hopes hinge on the South Sydney battle and the following week's match versus fellow playoffs aspirants Penrith.

"Every game for us is a must-win ... our sole focus last week was getting the job done against the Cowboys and we were able to do that," he said.

The inclusions of Andrew Fifita (suspension), Wade Graham and Matt Moylan (hamstring injuries) have allowed Morris to name a full-strength side for the first time this year.

Jesse Ramien playing for the Sharks in 2018.
Jesse Ramien playing for the Sharks in 2018. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"It's been a long time coming and we'll look forward to getting all our boys together on the park and hopefully we can keep them all on the park for the next five to six weeks," Morris said.

"Certainly the boys had a spring in their step seeing all their experienced boys take the field for captain's run."

Morris confirmed his plan to use Fifita from the interchange bench, hopeful the change "lights the spark" for the representative prop.

He also expects second-rower Briton Nikora will play despite an ankle injury.

"Brit stayed off his legs most of the week with his ankle problem but we're confident if he pulls up tomorrow [Saturday] he should be okay. We just need to check him in the morning," Morris said.

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