Cronulla Sharks coach John Morris at a whole club training session with 160 players from Harold Matthews to NRL at Cronulla High School fields. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Cronulla Sharks coach John Morris at a whole club training session with 160 players from Harold Matthews to NRL at Cronulla High School fields. Picture: Dylan Robinson

Mystery candidates enter Sharks coaching fray

Two "more experienced" candidates have emerged to replace Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan after he resigned earlier this month.

Cameron Ciraldo and interim coach John Morris have already been interviewed for the position and are considered the front runners.

Current St Helens coach Justin Holbrook is still a serious contender but they are yet to formally interview him.

They have however initiated discussions with his management but the Sharks are aware of the prohibitive nature of his existing contractual obligations in the English Super League.

The highly regarded Holbrook still has one season remaining on the deal he signed back in 2017. At the time he was part of Trent Robinson's coaching staff at the Sydney Roosters.

His coaching resume also includes stints with NRL clubs Canterbury, Parramatta and St George Illawarra.

The Daily Telegraph understands two "more experienced" coaches are also being considered but the club is remaining tight-lipped as to their identity.

Former Manly Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett's name was thrown around as a possibility but the Sharks said they had not made any direct contact with Barrett.

It's understood his management reached out to Cronulla to sound out the opportunity but then withdraw their interest a couple of weeks later.

The Sharks want to have a new head coach finalised as soon as possible but are determined not to rush into making an appointment until they are confident all viable options have been explored.

Holbrook has been a big success with St Helens. Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images.
Holbrook has been a big success with St Helens. Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images.

One reason why they can take their time in coming to a decision has been Morris' impressive stint as caretaker coach, which has also only strengthened his chances of taking over the role on a more permanent basis.

Cronulla officials praised how well he has handled himself and the team during what has been a turbulent time for the club. He also has the backing of current players, including skipper.

It's understood, officials will consult with senior players, like Gallen. before a decision is made but ultimately the final call will rest with management.

While the three main contenders might lack coaching experience at the NRL level, officials remain confident that the shortlist of rookie coaches they have assembled have what it takes to perform at the elite level.

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