Roosters pair Jake Friend and Lindsay Collins have been added to Queensland’s squad while AJ Brimson is preparing to fill Kalyn Ponga’s boots at fullback.
It’s being reported that due to a handshake agreement with both Trent Robinson and Nick Politis, Craig Fitzgibbon will not consider leaving the Roosters until the end of the 2021 season.
This comes in spite of Fitzgibbon’s interest in exploring his options as a first grade coach. With one position currently vacant, as well as several other coaches underperforming, it seems odd that he isn’t throwing his hat into the ring.
Apparently integrity will keep Fitzgibbon’s phone on silent when rival club CEOs start calling. The timing is less than ideal because 2020 looks to be a big year of coach turnover with the Warriors already on the hunt and potentially a number of other clubs including the Dragons, Bulldogs, Sharks, Cowboys and maybe even the Broncos looking for a new head honcho.
On paper Fitzgibbon looks to be the best rookie coach out there. He was an outstanding player and he has served his coaching apprenticeship under multiple premiership winner Trent Robinson.
The most obvious choice for Fitzgibbon would be the Dragons. He made his first grade debut for the Illawarra Steelers, he scored a try in the 1999 grand final for the Dragons and his family name is synonymous with rugby league in the Illawarra.
His father Allan Fitzgibbon was the inaugural coach of the Steelers.
However for the Dragons the timing may now be off. Word is that the Dragons are looking to move on from Paul McGregor – Fitzgibbon’s captain in that grand final – in this offseason.
After a worst ever 15th place finish in 2019 and with the Dragons currently sitting 12th with two wins and five losses, the board, sponsors and supporters alike have lost faith.
After six years in charge if McGregor was going to bring success it would have already happened by now. It’s only the club’s reluctance to cough up the payout for McGregor’s contract that’s keeping McGregor employed.
So with Dragons assistant coach Shane Flanagan banned until 2022 and Fitzgibbon also unavailable until 2022, the argument for Nathan Brown in 2021 gains more momentum.