The 2019 coaching situation within the Shire is not set to be resolved until well into the New Year, but I’d argue that the Sharks have already found their next move.
Following the de-registerating of 2016 Premiership winning coach Shane Flanagan, the Sharks face the very real possibility of not knowing who their full time coach will be until the appeals process is complete, which could stretch through past the end of January.
As an interim move the Sharks have announced current assistant coaches Jim Dymock and John Morris as co-coaches, with a look to working it all out once Flanagan has had his chance to appeal the preliminary findings.
Although there is a chance that Flanagan may ultimately present a case that will allow him to return to his role, that is looking very unlikely to say the least.
A series of coaching options have been linked with the club with former Shark Trent Barrett supposedly leading a long list.
Brad Arthur has been linked while NRL regulars such as Neil Henry and Anthony Griffin have been linked with a return.
A string of possible first time coaches have also been said to have expressed an interest in the role if it does become available in the new year as expected.
Despite the long list of coaches being mentioned, in my view the Sharks have found at least their short term answer in the Dymock/Morris combo.
The Sharks supposedly received a double dose of funds prior to Christmas yet their financial situation remains dire to say the least.
The NRL held talks with the club recently over fears the Sharks could soon fall into administration.
The Sharks did enough to prove their long-term solvency within the Shire largely on the back of continued incoming funds due to their development projects.
That said, the Sharks aren’t swimming in dollars and have a likely further fine coming in the New Year.
Flanagan was reportedly on anywhere from 600k a year to almost a million for 2019 and despite his abilities to get the very best out of his squad, that’s a million dollars the Sharks now don’t likely have to pay in 2019.
In Dymock and Morris the Sharks have an extremely experienced pair of NRL players who can share ideas and ultimately lead their side into 2019 without breaking the bank.
You’d have to believe a full time appointment would mean one of the two would step up, at increased pay, but Morris (for mine the most likely to take the job on) would be available on far, FAR less than any of the alternatives.
Although Morris would not bring with him hundreds (or any) of games of NRL coaching experience as the likes of Arthur and Griffin would, he does bring passion, and a level of keenness no other could match.
He is a Shark through and through and brought success to the club’s junior ranks. He oversaw the incredible NYC minor premiership run in 2017 and if not for key injuries at the wrong end of the season, he would be a premiership winning coach.
Importantly he oversaw players such as Kyle Flanagan, Bronson Xerri and Blayke Brailey, three key players in the future for the black, white and blues.
Obviously junior (relative) success does not guarantee success at the NRL level, nor does NRL success as a player, but Morris already has the reported support of the playing group, something of which many of the reported alternatives have lost in recent seasons.
The risk simply isn’t worth the reward.
The Sharks could drop $500k on Trent Barrett and there is absolutely no guarantee of success.
Morris will reportedly take the job for far less. I’d be backing the through and through Shark on far less on a short-term contract every day of the week.
Unless the likes of a Bellamy, or Robinson magically offer their services to the Sharks for almost free, I see no other alternative than a promotion from within.
Barrett has been linked heavily but with all due respect I’m not exactly sure why.
The lack of resources at Manly lead to his leaving the club. I’m not sure what he expects from the most cash strapped club in the NRL and a side that relied on Shane Flanagan part-funding and painting the club’s gym.
I can’t see Arthur or Henry or Griffin leading a side to the title given their recent efforts at clubs a lot better off than the Sharks.
Despite their recent woes off-field, the Sharks have a roster capable of challenging for a title in 2019.
I can understand the club not wanting to waste that opportunity but given the financial situation and lack of quality replacements available, surely the club looks to the future rather than the past.
I’d be on board the likes of St Helens coach Justin Holbrook coming in if he were available or even a look at a highly regarded assistant coach within the NRL ranks, but there’s no point in putting up big money for someone who hasn’t tasted success elsewhere.
Morris and Dymock should be given the off-season given that they know the squad and structures. It’s too late to disrupt that now.
If results don’t go well, look around, but if the Sharks start the season well, there is no reason they shouldn’t see out the season as co-coaches with ultimately one being appointed full time.