Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
In 2022, Craig Fitzgibbon will become the 21st head coach of the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks, a club with a proud history since they joined the NSWRL in 1967.
Over the past decade, Cronulla has experienced its most successful period in club history, with the standard being set quite high for Fitzgibbon next year.
Today, we take a look at the Sharks’ last five permanent head coaches and the success or lack thereof they had.
JOHN MORRIS (2019-2021)
John Morris played over 100 NRL games for the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks between 2010 and 2014, before going on to coach the club’s Holden Cup team to a minor premiership in 2017.
“Bomber” would take over the first-grade coaching duties from Shane Flanagan at the beginning of 2019, and would go on to have a fine tenure.
A seventh-placed finish in 2019 and an eighth-placed finish in 2020 means that Morris has never missed a finals series when coaching the Sharks.
SHANE FLANAGAN (2010-2013, 2015-2018)
Despite a coaching career that has been shrouded in controversy, Shane Flanagan is Cronulla’s most successful coach thus far.
Flanagan is the only Sharks coach in the past 20 years to have a win rate above 50%, he is the club’s second most capped coach and led Cronulla to their first-ever premiership in 2016.
RICKY STUART (2006-2010)
Ricky Stuart came to the Sharks in 2006 with quite the CV, leading the Roosters to three straight Grand Finals and a premiership between 2002 and 2004.
“Sticky” did not have as pleasant a time in the Shire though, taking the club to just one finals series in 91 games as head coach.
Granted in that 2008 season the club did manage to get to a Grand Final qualifier, but in the grand scheme of things, it just was not good enough.
STUART RAPER (2004-2006)
A former player for the club in the 80s, Stuart Raper’s time as head coach at the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks was nothing to write home about, but there were signs of the club building towards something during his tenure.
In 2005, he would coach Cronulla to a finals series and managed to finish his time at the Sharks with a higher win rate than Ricky Stuart.
CHRIS ANDERSON (2002-2003)
Chris Anderson’s Sharks side almost made the Grand Final in 2002, before being eliminated by minor premiers the New Zealand Warriors in the Preliminary Final.
Things were looking good for Anderson’s side in 2003, but a steep slide down the competition ladder saw a promising outfit go from the final four to missing the top eight completely.