Morris was really up against it at Sharks

John Morris was still able to make the finals in his two years in charge. Photo: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
John Morris was still able to make the finals in his two years in charge. Photo: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There is never an easy way to get rid of a coach. It generally always gets messy, and the end of John Morris' time at the helm of the Sharks this week was no exception.

Now, I have absolutely no problem with a club like the Sharks targeting a coach who they perceive can take them forward. And there won't be too many who would disagree that getting a bloke like Craig Fitzgibbon to your organisation will be a big plus.

I think the frustration of a lot of people is in how it went down and the communication process between the club and the coach.

Most people, and I'm one, think that Johnny Morris has done a really good job under pretty trying circumstances.

Through no fault of his own, Morris hasn't been working with the same salary cap as other NRL clubs, he's had players on massive money that either haven't performed or haven't played a lot of games, he's had the Bronson Xerri drug drama and he's been forced to release players.

So he's been through everything and still managed to make the finals in the two years he's been in charge.

As an outsider looking in, it looks extremely harsh - there is no doubt about that - to basically show him the door. But the reality is we are in a professional business and this is what can and does happen.

Irrespective of the rights and wrongs and what anyone thinks of the decision to let Morris go, the process should have been handled much better. Far more respect should have been afforded a guy who has done a lot for the organisation, both as a player and a coach.

Like I said though, as an administrator, if you want to become a top-four club or premiership-winning club down the track and you don't believe the current coach can get you there or is not the right person, it's your prerogative to make a call.

What the Sharks have done now, though, is put plenty of pressure on Fitzy coming in and there is plenty of pressure on the decision-makers who made the call to make it a success.

Just on Fitzy, when you look at what he has done as an assistant, you wouldn't get a better credentialed candidate. It doesn't guarantee anything, but it does give you some confidence about him being a success.

He's coached Country and I've heard nothing but tremendous reports about him. I actually asked him one year when I was in charge of the NSW Blues whether he could come on board in an assistant's role during Origin, but at the time he couldn't do it.

I think if you ask anyone that understands the sort of apprenticeship he has done, they'll say he has been ready to coach first grade for a number of years now.

However, he opted to stay in the system there at the Roosters, learn as much as he could, before taking a head coaching job himself.

It's going to be exciting to see just how he goes. It's a massive challenge for anyone because of the pressure and I'm sure he would like to be coming in under different circumstances without the controversy.

But I do think he is coming into the Sharks at a good time. They'll have their salary cap in order for the first time in a long while, he'll be able to mould the squad into the team he wants, they have a good junior system and they seem as though they are now financially stable.

He is walking into a place that looks as though it is ready to have success. He's bided his time, he's got the pick of the tree and now it's about putting his own plan in place and making sure it works.



I seriously don't know what to make of the Knights. They can look like a top-eight team one week and a bottom-four team the next. They've now lost three on the trot and were absolutely awful last week against the Titans. But they've got some important troops back and should get the job done at home against a Sharks team who must be wondering what the hell is happening in the front office. My tip: Knights


The battle of the fullbacks here alone is mouth-watering and I'll be interested to see how highly impressive young Sam Walker goes against a big Melbourne pack who will be gunning for him. At home, it's the Storm for mine. My tip: Storm


Looking forward to seeing Tommy Turbo back for Manly, who were gritty in getting their first win of the season last week. But I think the Titans' forwards, led by David Fifita, will be too powerful for them. My tip: Titans


After the disappointment of what the Tigers dished up in the first half against the Cowboys, and the confidence and skill in this South Sydney side - led by Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker, Adam Reynolds and co - I can't go past the Bunnies. My tip: Souths


A tough game this one, but I'm going with the Raiders at home with Dylan Brown to be a big out for the Eels. They were out-muscled and out-enthused by the Dragons last weekend and I'm not convinced they will bounce back here. My tip: Raiders


How good are the Dragons going? They are playing tough, executing well and applying plenty of defensive pressure. The Warriors have some key injuries. My tip: Dragons


If the Bulldogs are to grab a break-through win, this has to be the game. But given it's in Townsville on a Sunday arvo with Jason Taumalolo back for the home side, I can't tip the Dogs. My tip: Cowboys

This story Morris was really up against it at Sharks first appeared on The Canberra Times.