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Craig Fitzgibbon discusses missing Adam Reynolds, out of contract halves and why he chose Cronulla
Craig Fitzgibbon discusses missing Adam Reynolds, out of contract halves and why he chose Cronulla

Fitzy declares trade plans after missing Reynolds

Incoming Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon has declared he will resist making a desperate panic buy in reaction to missing playmaking target Adam Reynolds.

Fitzgibbon added that he was comfortable with the negotiations despite the Rabbitohs halfback knocking back the Sharks pitch for 2022 and beyond to instead take-up a lucrative three-year deal with the Broncos.

In his first interview since being appointed Sharks coach from 2022 just over five weeks ago, a calm and collected Fitzgibbon also revealed a "gentlemen's agreement' with Roosters coach Trent Robinson would stop him from prizing any contracted players out of the tricolours and into the black, white and blue.

"And I'm cool with that," Fitzgibbon said.

 

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"I get how it works. It's just not appropriate.

"There's this perception we're screaming and scratching around for players, but I'm comfortable with what we have at the Sharks.

"I want to work with the players there at the Sharks. That's why I'm going."

BUNNY HOP

Reynolds' decision to choose the Broncos over the Sharks has been examined and scrutinised as a bungled opportunity by Cronulla.

But Fitzgibbon gave the sense he was unfazed by being without an organising halfback.

"While that is disappointing, it won't be the first player we miss out on,'' Fitzgibbon said.

"From our discussions Adam wanted a change of scenery and saw potential in Brisbane.

"He liked the look of Cronulla as well, it wasn't a write-off. It was a tough decision for him.

"It wasn't a case of, 'I'm not going to the Sharks, I'm going to Brisbane'.
"He made a call that he wanted to move his family to Brisbane.

"We've already moved on.''

Craig Fitzgibbon watches on. picture John Grainger
Craig Fitzgibbon watches on. picture John Grainger

WHY CRONULLA?

Fitzgibbon, 43, could be the head coach of the Dragons.

He could also be running the Cowboys or Warriors, after knocking back approaches from all three clubs.

But instead, he's on his way to Cronulla next year to take over a Sharks club that made the polarising decision after five rounds to let John Morris go prior to his contract expiring.

"I didn't want to rush it and I had to really wait until I was 100 per cent confident,'' Fitzgibbon said.

"I've got some history at the Sharks with my father (Alan) coaching and I had seven years there as a (ball) boy and I lived in Cronulla for 10-years when I played for the Roosters, so that came into the decision.

"And then also, I want to reiterate, I like the look of the club.

"The guys there (management) have shown a lot of trust in me and I trust them.

"It's in a financially stable position now, refurbished stadium and club, there's a roster there that I see a lot of potential in and I'm just fortunate to be the beneficiary of a tough decision.

"There is some stuff we do at the Roosters that I believe in, so of course I will stick to those.

"But I also have to develop my own style. It is time for me to stand up as a coach and a man myself."

Allan Fitzgibbon, Craig’s father, back in 1995.
Allan Fitzgibbon, Craig’s father, back in 1995.

SIXES AND SEVENS

Sharks halves Matt Moylan, Shaun Johnson and Braydon Trindall are all off-contract this season.

Despite having salary cap money to spend, the Sharks face a dearth of quality halves on the open market to chase.

Fitzgibbon said he hadn't yet considered bringing local junior Kyle Flanagan home after a tough period at Canterbury.

The Blues assistant coach seemed comfortable - and confident - that there would be a final wave of mass-player movement at the end of this season that would open the door for Cronulla to strike.

"I have been having conversations with our existing playmakers at the Sharks," Fitzgibbon said.

"The outcome of those discussions hasn't been determined yet, but it's not necessarily (right) that we'll go to market either.

"The whole reason I took the position in the first place is because I see a lot of potential in the players at the club.

"There's a whole host of them that have been through the junior system together.

"It's not about ringing in the changes and I'm not saying there won't be, but I'm also really comfortable with the players that are there."

Will the Sharks stick with Matt Moylan and Shaun Johnson? Picture: AAP Image/David Neilson
Will the Sharks stick with Matt Moylan and Shaun Johnson? Picture: AAP Image/David Neilson

BELLAMY

Craig Bellamy is expected to remain at the Storm for at least another 12-months, but that hasn't stopped Fitzgibbon from talking to the supercoach about joining him in the Shire as his coaching director.

"I've had a couple of chats with him,'' Fitzgibbon said.

"Obviously he's still open to it - as a young coach, who wouldn't want to work with Craig Bellamy?

"I've been an assistant coach with Craig with Australian team and I toured with him, I played under him at NSW Origin and Country origin level, so I've got a good relationship with him.

"The last discussions I had with him, he hadn't made a decision yet.

"If he comes, great - if not, I'm just as excited as ever.''

Originally published as Fitzy declares trade plans after missing Reynolds



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