Cronulla Sharks announce John Morris as interim NRL head coach

Stepping up: Former Cronulla hooker John Morris has been named the club's interim NRL head coach. Picture: John Veage
Stepping up: Former Cronulla hooker John Morris has been named the club's interim NRL head coach. Picture: John Veage

Cronulla have announced former player John Morris has been appointed as interim head coach of their NRL side.

Sharks players are expected to return to training on Monday where they will work under Morris for the first time in his new role officially.

Jim Dymock will remain as assistant coach.

Cronulla were left without a coach less than three months before the start of the 2019 NRL season after Shane Flanagan had his registration cancelled by the NRL in late December after being alleged to have broken strict directives not to contact Cronulla officials during his year-long ban in 2014 for his involvement in the Sharks’ peptides scandal.

The Sharks were also fined the $400,000 that was suspended as part of Cronulla’s $1million fine for the peptides scandal. Cronulla also fined an additional $400,000 for Flanagan’s breach, with the club facing a total fine of $800,000.

Flanagan was issued with a notice of intention to cancel his registration. He is not permitted to coach or act in any official capacity at the club pending the final determination despite the findings being preliminary.

Flanagan and Cronulla have been given until the end of January to appeal the decisions. It is unclear as to whether Flanagan will appeal his ban, though Sharks CEO Barry Russell indicated last month Cronulla would appeal their fines.

Morris completed his Masters of Coaching in 2014 before becoming the elite development coach of the Sharks Academy in 2015.

He took over as Cronulla's Holden Cup Coach in 2016 and guided the Sharks NYC team to the minor premiership in 2017 in just his second season of full-time coaching. He was named the 2017 NYC coach of the year.

Morris made 300 NRL appearances as a player, including 105 games for the Sharks across five seasons.

Morris became one of Flanagan’s NRL assistants last season and took over coaching the side for the remainder of pre-season training before Christmas alongside Dymock after Flanagan’s suspension.

Russell welcomed the appointment.

“The club is delighted to be able to give John the opportunity to step up into the interim head coach role and has full confidence in his ability to lead our football program into the 2019 season,” he said.

The Sharks face Manly in their first trial at Brookvale Oval on February 23. They then travel to Maitland to face Newcastle on February 2.

Cronulla return to the Hunter Valley to start their NRL season in Newcastle against the Knights on March 15.