Sharks star Shaun Johnson said he was “disappointed by the bombshell reports John Morris was set to be sacked by Cronulla.
The Daily Telegraph first reported Morris was a dead man walking after the Sharks’ loss to the Roosters on Saturday, with news progressing on Sunday that Roosters assistant Craig Fitzgibbon had agreed to terms with the club.
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It’s was expected that Fitzgibbon would see out the season with the Roosters before joining the Sharks for the 2022 season.
Sharks management will reportedly meet with Morris’ management on Monday, with the club looking to decide in the next fortnight.
It continues the pressure on Morris placed on his shoulders throughout the 2020 season and leading into 2021.
But the coach has been widely praised for taking a weaker roster on paper to the finals in the past two seasons, appearing to bat above his average with the club after being thrust into the position after Shane Flanagan was banned from coaching before the 2019 season.
The Telegraph spoke to Morris, revealing, “As Morris was leaving the SCG, his wife rang in tears about the news breaking in The Sunday Telegraph and on Fox Sports … that the club had approached Sydney Roosters assistant Craig Fitzgibbon to replace him”.
But he also did his match review until 4am and was in the office on his day off. “I don’t intend going down without a fight.” Morris told The Daily Telegraph, “I love this club, and my commitment and work ethic will remain strong.
“The constant speculation around my job hasn’t been pleasant, but I’ve had unbelievable support from the members and fans.”
One of the big reasons given around Morris being moved on was the talent coming off contract at the end of the season and a battle over money.
Despite being the lowest-paid coach in the NRL, Morris’ manager was looking for an upgrade from his $350,000 deal, which The Telegraph reported started the problems with management.
Under Morris, 12 rookies have debuted, and Morris has not been able to dip his toe into the play market. It’s something that off-contract star Shaun Johnson said was disappointing, especially when Morris “hasn’t had any control over the roster”.
“I think everyone aware of the situation would definitely be feeling the same about it,” the injured playmaker said on Fox League’s Sunday Night with Matty Johns.
“I look at the facts, bro. I don’t know how you can have a coach who has been thrown in at the deep end right at the start. He had to take over a difficult situation at the star with Flanagan leaving.
“He’s gone after it, taken the side to the finals the last couple of years, and finds himself in the position he is now. It’s disappointing, certainly disappointing.”