James Tedesco has labelled Craig Fitzgibbon one of the best coaches he’s had as the Sydney Roosters assistant appears set to land his first NRL head coaching job with Cronulla.
A messy situation is unfolding at the Sharks after club bosses met with the management of John Morris on Monday to discuss the coach’s future beyond the end of his contract.
It’s understood no resolution was reached with Morris and Fitzgibbon is on the verge of agreeing to a deal with the club for 2022 and beyond.
While drama surrounds the treatment of Morris after taking the undermanned Sharks to the finals for the past two seasons, Fitzgibbon has been backed by Roosters stars to bring success to any NRL team.
The 43-year-old has been the mastermind behind the Roosters’ defensive systems as an assistant since 2012 and has also been a part of the NSW State of Origin camps for the past two years.
“He’s one of the best coaches that I’ve had and he’s the assistant coach,” Roosters and Blues fullback Tedesco said on Monday.
“I’ve learnt so much from him.
“He’s got that presence as a coach where everyone listens and wants to do their job for him.
“That’s just how he presents himself and how he talks.
“He’s done our D for a number of years now and he makes everyone want to defend for him and not let him down.
“He’s a great coach and a great bloke and I’m not surprised if clubs are chasing him.”
Earlier this year Fitzgibbon was awarded life membership of the Roosters, having been a part of the club as a player and coach since 2000.
He’s been considered one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the NRL, but knocked back an offer from St George Illawarra to replace Paul McGregor last year.
Fitzgibbon’s priority was to see out his contract with the Roosters, which expires this season.
Vastly-experienced Roosters star Brett Morris said Fitzgibbon had earned a shot at an NRL head coaching role.
“Fitzy’s been ready for quite some time,” he said.
“He’s highly regarded here at the Roosters and at the Blues as well.
“He’s a very smart man, very passionate about coaching.”
The Roosters have been known for their highly effective defensive systems since Trent Robinson took over in 2013, helping to win three premierships in that time.
It’s thought Fitzgibbon could have the same impact at the Sharks, who have made the finals for the past two seasons but haven’t challenged for a title.
Sharks half Shaun Johnson on Sunday launched a passionate defence of Morris, saying he’s been thrown into the deep end with a reduced salary cap and mass injuries but hasn’t missed the finals yet in his first head caoching job.
“You look what he’s done, he hasn’t had any control over the roster, he’s been in a situation where our cap has been shot the past few years and he’s just made do and got us all on board,” Johnson told Fox League.