Official Craig Fitzgibbon

Shortfin Mako

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I usually find that “forwards being dominated” is fan speak for when the opposition had way more possession, often because the team made a bunch of errors.

Peak forum whinging about the forwards was in rd1 and rd15. Games where their forwards made good yards but the Sharks kept coughing up possession or giving piggy back penalties.

The games where the forwards actually got dominated people whinged about edge defence - because they couldn’t shut down the opposition on the back of super fast play the balls and being outnumbered.
I learnt the term in this forum 😉
 

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So do you think that if all things were pretty much equal in a game of footy, the two forward packs would pretty much cancel each other out?
With 50/50 possession and field possession I think the Sharks forward pack is good enough to go with anyone else’s forward pack. I just think “forwards lost the battle” or similar is way overused. There are a lot of games where they did their job well but there are other factors outside the forwards’ control which decide the game. E.g. tries from kicks, poor end of sets, errors from the back 5, errors from the halves etc.

Most of the Sharks bad losses in 2023 were like this imo. There were probably only 2 games where I would say the Sharks forwards were soundly outplayed.
 

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Our pack definitely can match it we’re just too inconsistent. Too many errors/giving away penalties etc. Tidy that up and we’re set.
 

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Our pack definitely can match it we’re just too inconsistent. Too many errors/giving away penalties etc. Tidy that up and we’re set.
They ain’t ready to scrap and get into a dog fight. There’s no hard edge

It can’t be that every time we face a top team we all of a sudden become inconsistent. It’s on Fitz to figure out how he gets into his players heads to be up for war when it gets hard
 

egg

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FROM OTHER FORUM

In Fitzy We Trust

In todays news, a Q and A with Fitz


Do the Cronulla Sharks really need an X-factor to be a genuine title contender?
And, who are the youngsters ready to take the next step?
We put those questions, and more, to coach Craig Fitzgibbon as he prepares for his third season in charge in the shire.

FATIMA KDOUH: How do you reflect on your 2023 season?
CRAIG FITZGIBBON: We had some moments throughout the year that were more difficult than the previous year. Things got up and running quicker than we had hoped but we had to find ourselves a little bit in 2023. We made changes during the season. I really thought we finished with a better representation of what we were about. None of us were comfortable about the way we were playing at the mid-year point. At the end of the day, we all took accountability and responsibility for that, none more so than me. In fairness to the players and staff, we knew we were off and no one flinched. We knew we had to get ourselves back to how we wanted to play. We were missing a host of players but everyone stepped up. I saw a lot from the character of the team. Everyone dug in and got us into the semi-finals in the end.
FK: The Sharks finished with the fifth-best attack in the NRL but what’s your assessment of the side’s defence, having conceded on average 20 points per game?
CF: We weren’t comfortable with the way we were defending. Particularly our semi-finals performance in 2022, it wasn’t up to scratch for semi-finals standard. Then we lost the semi against the Roosters only conceding one line break, one try and a kick deflection try, so we did tighten our defence up towards the back end but it was too late to find a real rhythm with it. We grew up a lot. From where we were sitting and how we were defending, to look at our draw at the back end knowing we needed to get our defence right, I think we did a good job of that. Ultimately we felt agonisingly short.

FK: How do you shore up your defensive structures over the summer?
CF: I feel like we were starting to grow up as a team and honour the simple part of the game like holding onto the ball and where we were turning the ball over. We kept things simple, it’s a formula that worked for us. We changed a lot of combinations in the spine, sometimes it’s hard to get continuity there with Braydon Trindall coming in, and Will Kennedy getting hurt. It ended up being a nice blueprint for us and now we have more time up our sleeves to work on that and strengthen it. It hurts, we were working so hard at it throughout the season but for whatever reasons … maybe we were a little bit uptight. We’re confident we can get our attacking football to compliment our defence. We feel like we’ve found some growth there.



FK: The side is 0-3 in the finals in the past two seasons. How do you make sure those results don’t become a mental block for the team?
CF: Some areas went forwards, some went backwards last year, but I feel like we can go forward again in 2024. Where that lands us, remains to be seen. Whatever finals curse or hangover, as such, happened long before we arrived. We feel like we are a new crew. The pain of those two finals exists but we need to earn the right to be there in the finals. All the while be better prepared for what might come. We’re not shying away from it, we want to go after it. It’s about earning the right to be there. We know we need to improve and prove we are getting better.
FK: There has been some commentary that maybe the Sharks are missing an X-factor player in the side. What’s your take on that, do you need an X-factor?
CF: You’re asking me to disrespect my team, and I’m not going to do that. From a development level, I believe wholeheartedly that with the exception of the more senior players – like Dale Finucane, Cam McInnes, Brit Nikora and Blayke Brailey – if you look at where everyone else is in their career, I’m really excited about the fact they could have an X-factor in them. That’s what I’m most excited about to be honest. I think it’s a fair question to ask ‘are you missing something?’. I think if I was to say what are we missing, it’s the next level of growth in the players we do have. I’m excited about them stepping up and hopefully proving me right.
FK: Nicho Hynes went from Dally M medallist to having to face some scrutiny over his performances. What will we see from him this year?
CF: Nicho has handled a lot of adversity in his life but maybe the first time he’s had to handle footy adversity. It wasn’t an easy time for him. All the while he never shirked his effort or desire to improve. When Nicho calmed his mind around what is important for his game and the team, he responded really well in the back end of the season.
Top-line halves at some point are always going to have these tough periods, there is a lot resting on their shoulders. We also changed his halves and fullback combination on him. Because he had a strong 2022, he’s had to shoulder that added responsibility, he accepts that. He has also acknowledged he can use his team to work through the tough periods a little better. For someone who has only played two seasons as NRL halfback, I’m really proud of him. I think he’s got so much more in him.

FK: Who are some of the players in the squad you feel are ready to step-up?
CF: If you look at where the team is at in terms of experience, I do feel strongly that a lot of players have so much more to give. We’ve got a crew of younger guys that are ready too. Guys like Tuku Hau-Tapuha and Jesse Colquhoun, he broke his foot at the start of 2023. We’ve got Kayal Iro and Kade Dykes in the backs. Kade is coming back from a knee reconstruction. We’ve got Sam Stonestreet who has had a full year of playing NSW Cup and there’s Daniel Atkinson. Mawene Hiroti played one game for us and was unbelievable. Liam Ison, a fullback, it’s his first full pre-season, he’s such a great competitor. He’s pushing himself and teammates at the moment.
Watching Jesse Colquhoun and Thomas Hazelton train it was clear these guys are NRL players. Jesse only a got a couple of opportunities. When Tommy got his opportunity, what he did well was show consistency. The difference between his best and worst was not much. After five preseasons, he earned his shot. He’s got many more levels as well.
FK: Will Kennedy’s place at the back has come under some scrutiny at different points over the past two seasons. What have you made of it all?
CF: The year before Will played on a shoulder that was seriously impacting the way he prepared but he fought on bravely. He did a full syndesmosis that required surgery, but he played the final 20 minutes of that match. Will wanted to step up and before that injury I thought he was one of our best in 2023. I’m confident where he’s at developmentally, beyond the injury hampered seasons, the best is yet to come from Will in my opinion.

FK: With Matt Moylan released to take on a deal with Leigh in the English Super League, who steps into the No.6 jumper?
CF: Braydon Trindall played terrific in the back end of the season and can take his game to the next level with more time to build a combination with Nicho Hynes, and get used to the players around him. When he came into the team, we were under the most pressure. He handled it, which was a good sign. He’s earned the right to walk back into that spot but he’s got guys like Niwhai Puru and Daniel Atkinson breathing down his neck.
This article contains features which are only available in the web versionTake me there
FK: You signed young centre Michael Gabriel from Canterbury. What do you like about him?
CF: We’d heard about him and his brother, you know through the grape vine, as ones to watch. He’s young and only starting his first full pre-season, we’re excited by him. He’s lightening quick. He’s done a good job of handling some pretty tough days at training so far.

FK: The retirement of Wade Graham has left a leadership void. How do you remedy that?
CF: It’s a very real thing that. There are only very few of those types of players that come along, like Wade. The senior players are cognisant of that, so we’ll be working hard with the leadership group. But not only leaving it to them and also taking some individual responsibility for the role each player can take on in terms of leadership.
It was the same when Andrew Fifita and Aiden Tolman retired in 2022, it left a void. So will Wade, his calming presence, his experience. We’ve got some guys heading into those leadership years, I’m looking forward to seeing who steps up.
FK: You’re going into your third season as a head coach. What has been the toughest part of your job so far?
CF: I underestimated the weight of decision making. Opinions cost you nothing but decisions cost you everything. It’s so easy to sit back and throw opinions around but until you sit in the weight of a decision and whether you get it right or wrong … I found that tough.
But the job is rewarding in the way you get to be a part of someone’s development. The commitment from everyone at the club from the chairman, the board and the CEO down, to see it unfold, it’s rewards to see everyone go about their business in that way.

Coach Q&A: Fitzgibbon addresses Sharks finals curse
 
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Thanks for posting egg.

I liked all of that, seems Fitz was being reasonably open and honest. Of course some won’t be happy unless Flanno is back in the chair but we all know that’s a fairy story.

The one bit that jumped out at me is the young kid we signed at centre, Michael Gabriel, said he was lightning quick.

That we need.
 
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bort

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This surprised me …
Not being considered for 6?
Being considered but just not ahead of the others?
Equal with other guys and just thought of their names first?
Strongly considered and wanted to keep that on the downlow?
Who knows...

Confirmed, no X-factor left in Brailey.

Thanks for sharing Egg.
I think with Nikora and McInnes listed Fitz isn't using it as a criticism. But it is a bit of an odd answer.

I don't know if anyone is really looking at Blayke to bring "X-factor" though - someone like Grant or Cheese can (especially close to the line), a run heavy bench hooker maybe can. I wouldn't really consider most to. Api pulls some tricks out sometimes actually.

Almost seems more like he is talking about "untapped potential"?
Like Blayke there has been various calls for things like more runs, more kicks, but we have probably seen for the most part what he can do. Just needs to bring it consistently without hampering anything else we are trying to do.

McInnes, Finucane really nowhere for them to go at this stage in terms of big developments to their play. Nikora was one of the best getting around last season, not sure how much better he can get other than slight improvements and maintaining that form consistently.
 
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Is that an attempt to GEE him up ?
I hope so

More a tongue in cheek jab at the detractors.
Not being considered for 6?
Being considered but just not ahead of the others?
Equal with other guys and just thought of their names first?
Strongly considered and wanted to keep that on the downlow?
Who knows...


I think with Nikora and McInnes listed Fitz isn't using it as a criticism. But it is a bit of an odd answer.

I don't know if anyone is really looking at Blayke to bring "X-factor" though - someone like Grant or Cheese can (especially close to the line), a run heavy bench hooker maybe can. I wouldn't really consider most to. Api pulls some tricks out sometimes actually.

Almost seems more like he is talking about "untapped potential"?
Like Blayke there has been various calls for things like more runs, more kicks, but we have probably seen for the most part what he can do. Just needs to bring it consistently without hampering anything else we are trying to do.

McInnes, Finucane really nowhere for them to go at this stage in terms of big developments to their play. Nikora was one of the best getting around last season, not sure how much better he can get other than slight improvements and maintaining that form consistently.
Yeah was a little odd, but he's definitely in good company there. I think Blayke still has plenty to offer. Interesting he's part of that senior group now.
 

bort

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Yeah was a little odd, but he's definitely in good company there. I think Blayke still has plenty to offer. Interesting he's part of that senior group now.
Even feels odd to name Brit in that group but really with over 100 games each they are two of our more senior players.
Who else has played 100+ not named? Ramien is one. BHU and Williams I thought maybe, but both on 99!
So yeah, I guess they are senior players
 
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FROM OTHER FORUM

In Fitzy We Trust

In todays news, a Q and A with Fitz


Do the Cronulla Sharks really need an X-factor to be a genuine title contender?
And, who are the youngsters ready to take the next step?
We put those questions, and more, to coach Craig Fitzgibbon as he prepares for his third season in charge in the shire.

FATIMA KDOUH: How do you reflect on your 2023 season?
CRAIG FITZGIBBON: We had some moments throughout the year that were more difficult than the previous year. Things got up and running quicker than we had hoped but we had to find ourselves a little bit in 2023. We made changes during the season. I really thought we finished with a better representation of what we were about. None of us were comfortable about the way we were playing at the mid-year point. At the end of the day, we all took accountability and responsibility for that, none more so than me. In fairness to the players and staff, we knew we were off and no one flinched. We knew we had to get ourselves back to how we wanted to play. We were missing a host of players but everyone stepped up. I saw a lot from the character of the team. Everyone dug in and got us into the semi-finals in the end.
FK: The Sharks finished with the fifth-best attack in the NRL but what’s your assessment of the side’s defence, having conceded on average 20 points per game?
CF: We weren’t comfortable with the way we were defending. Particularly our semi-finals performance in 2022, it wasn’t up to scratch for semi-finals standard. Then we lost the semi against the Roosters only conceding one line break, one try and a kick deflection try, so we did tighten our defence up towards the back end but it was too late to find a real rhythm with it. We grew up a lot. From where we were sitting and how we were defending, to look at our draw at the back end knowing we needed to get our defence right, I think we did a good job of that. Ultimately we felt agonisingly short.

FK: How do you shore up your defensive structures over the summer?
CF: I feel like we were starting to grow up as a team and honour the simple part of the game like holding onto the ball and where we were turning the ball over. We kept things simple, it’s a formula that worked for us. We changed a lot of combinations in the spine, sometimes it’s hard to get continuity there with Braydon Trindall coming in, and Will Kennedy getting hurt. It ended up being a nice blueprint for us and now we have more time up our sleeves to work on that and strengthen it. It hurts, we were working so hard at it throughout the season but for whatever reasons … maybe we were a little bit uptight. We’re confident we can get our attacking football to compliment our defence. We feel like we’ve found some growth there.



FK: The side is 0-3 in the finals in the past two seasons. How do you make sure those results don’t become a mental block for the team?
CF: Some areas went forwards, some went backwards last year, but I feel like we can go forward again in 2024. Where that lands us, remains to be seen. Whatever finals curse or hangover, as such, happened long before we arrived. We feel like we are a new crew. The pain of those two finals exists but we need to earn the right to be there in the finals. All the while be better prepared for what might come. We’re not shying away from it, we want to go after it. It’s about earning the right to be there. We know we need to improve and prove we are getting better.
FK: There has been some commentary that maybe the Sharks are missing an X-factor player in the side. What’s your take on that, do you need an X-factor?
CF: You’re asking me to disrespect my team, and I’m not going to do that. From a development level, I believe wholeheartedly that with the exception of the more senior players – like Dale Finucane, Cam McInnes, Brit Nikora and Blayke Brailey – if you look at where everyone else is in their career, I’m really excited about the fact they could have an X-factor in them. That’s what I’m most excited about to be honest. I think it’s a fair question to ask ‘are you missing something?’. I think if I was to say what are we missing, it’s the next level of growth in the players we do have. I’m excited about them stepping up and hopefully proving me right.
FK: Nicho Hynes went from Dally M medallist to having to face some scrutiny over his performances. What will we see from him this year?
CF: Nicho has handled a lot of adversity in his life but maybe the first time he’s had to handle footy adversity. It wasn’t an easy time for him. All the while he never shirked his effort or desire to improve. When Nicho calmed his mind around what is important for his game and the team, he responded really well in the back end of the season.
Top-line halves at some point are always going to have these tough periods, there is a lot resting on their shoulders. We also changed his halves and fullback combination on him. Because he had a strong 2022, he’s had to shoulder that added responsibility, he accepts that. He has also acknowledged he can use his team to work through the tough periods a little better. For someone who has only played two seasons as NRL halfback, I’m really proud of him. I think he’s got so much more in him.

FK: Who are some of the players in the squad you feel are ready to step-up?
CF: If you look at where the team is at in terms of experience, I do feel strongly that a lot of players have so much more to give. We’ve got a crew of younger guys that are ready too. Guys like Tuku Hau-Tapuha and Jesse Colquhoun, he broke his foot at the start of 2023. We’ve got Kayal Iro and Kade Dykes in the backs. Kade is coming back from a knee reconstruction. We’ve got Sam Stonestreet who has had a full year of playing NSW Cup and there’s Daniel Atkinson. Mawene Hiroti played one game for us and was unbelievable. Liam Ison, a fullback, it’s his first full pre-season, he’s such a great competitor. He’s pushing himself and teammates at the moment.
Watching Jesse Colquhoun and Thomas Hazelton train it was clear these guys are NRL players. Jesse only a got a couple of opportunities. When Tommy got his opportunity, what he did well was show consistency. The difference between his best and worst was not much. After five preseasons, he earned his shot. He’s got many more levels as well.
FK: Will Kennedy’s place at the back has come under some scrutiny at different points over the past two seasons. What have you made of it all?
CF: The year before Will played on a shoulder that was seriously impacting the way he prepared but he fought on bravely. He did a full syndesmosis that required surgery, but he played the final 20 minutes of that match. Will wanted to step up and before that injury I thought he was one of our best in 2023. I’m confident where he’s at developmentally, beyond the injury hampered seasons, the best is yet to come from Will in my opinion.

FK: With Matt Moylan released to take on a deal with Leigh in the English Super League, who steps into the No.6 jumper?
CF: Braydon Trindall played terrific in the back end of the season and can take his game to the next level with more time to build a combination with Nicho Hynes, and get used to the players around him. When he came into the team, we were under the most pressure. He handled it, which was a good sign. He’s earned the right to walk back into that spot but he’s got guys like Niwhai Puru and Daniel Atkinson breathing down his neck.
This article contains features which are only available in the web versionTake me there
FK: You signed young centre Michael Gabriel from Canterbury. What do you like about him?
CF: We’d heard about him and his brother, you know through the grape vine, as ones to watch. He’s young and only starting his first full pre-season, we’re excited by him. He’s lightening quick. He’s done a good job of handling some pretty tough days at training so far.

FK: The retirement of Wade Graham has left a leadership void. How do you remedy that?
CF: It’s a very real thing that. There are only very few of those types of players that come along, like Wade. The senior players are cognisant of that, so we’ll be working hard with the leadership group. But not only leaving it to them and also taking some individual responsibility for the role each player can take on in terms of leadership.
It was the same when Andrew Fifita and Aiden Tolman retired in 2022, it left a void. So will Wade, his calming presence, his experience. We’ve got some guys heading into those leadership years, I’m looking forward to seeing who steps up.
FK: You’re going into your third season as a head coach. What has been the toughest part of your job so far?
CF: I underestimated the weight of decision making. Opinions cost you nothing but decisions cost you everything. It’s so easy to sit back and throw opinions around but until you sit in the weight of a decision and whether you get it right or wrong … I found that tough.
But the job is rewarding in the way you get to be a part of someone’s development. The commitment from everyone at the club from the chairman, the board and the CEO down, to see it unfold, it’s rewards to see everyone go about their business in that way.

Coach Q&A: Fitzgibbon addresses Sharks finals curse
Geez your a good egg!

thanks for posting.
 
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