Shaun Johnson has been described as an $800,000 headache by league legends led by Cooper Cronk ripping into his recent performances.
The Kiwi halfback, who joined the Cronulla Sharks two years ago after being chased out of the Warriors, was described as firing "blanks" by Cronk.
The recently retired Cronk is a legendary NRL figure, having been at the heart of the Melbourne Storm dynasty before guiding the Sydney Roosters to titles.
Despite the Sharks' victory over North Queensland in which Johnson had two try assists, Cronk and Cronulla icon Paul Gallen took aim at the Kiwi.
"Johnson's the key," Cronk told Fox Sports.
"Johnson won the Golden Boot in 2014, signed with the Sharks on a three-year deal - this is his second - and to be honest he's fired blanks since arriving.
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"What sums it up for me is he puts in this kick where he makes the ball torp basically for…the first try. You sit there on the reverse angle and it bends away from the fullback.
"…but then when the game's in the balance he goes for a kick for touch from halfway, shanks it, and five minutes later has another kick with the game in the balance and kicks (it dead) for a seven tackle set.
"He can be the best player in the world but he just doesn't deliver enough for me, and if the Sharks are going to do something this year - you've got enough talent on that list led by wade Graham."
Cronk said Johnson "needs to be the star" despite the ability of fellow playmakers Chad Townsend and Matt Moylan.
"When you get to the back end of your career you lose your physicality…for Shaun to be a threat with short ball or over the top you need to run, otherwise people don't think you're a threat," Cronk said.
Gallen implied a selection reshuffle could leave Johnson on the sideline although he did not go anywhere near as far as Cronk in criticising Johnson.
The Telegraph claimed Johnson was "facing the axe" under a heading which shouted "Shaun Johnson is fast becoming an $800,000 headache for coach John Morris".
Aucklander Johnson's messy departure from the Warriors in 2018, after a 160-game career with his home club, caused major headlines and divided fans.