Official Craig Fitzgibbon

The Punisher

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Would love to upgrade Nikora to Matterson or Crichton and by the sounds of things won’t cost much more
Thats the thing
With Wade and Fifita off contract weve got the financial clout available to make those upgrades on Nikora.
We havent needed Wade or Fifita for 2 years really and have managed without them both for long periods so we can grab squad players to fill their roles in the team
 
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Some big calls to be made if we are going to get on track.

Teig is showing he needs to be our left edge second rower. We are consistently going through patches where we get rolled in the middle, so something needs to change there also.

I wonder if we could try:

8. Toby
10. Finucane
11. Nikora
12. Teig
13. Wade

14. Mcinnes
15. Hunt
16. Tolman
17. Hazleton

Or if preferable, swap Wade and Cam, but it just seems like he wants to start Wade.
 

bort

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Some big calls to be made if we are going to get on track.

Teig is showing he needs to be our left edge second rower. We are consistently going through patches where we get rolled in the middle, so something needs to change there also.

I wonder if we could try:

8. Toby
10. Finucane
11. Nikora
12. Teig
13. Wade

14. Mcinnes
15. Hunt
16. Tolman
17. Hazleton

Or if preferable, swap Wade and Cam, but it just seems like he wants to start Wade.
Since he wants to start Wade I like that, but he’d also play Trindall not Hazelton.

I think beteen Teig, Graham, McInnes we don’t need Trindall there but Fitz clearly wants the half cover.
 
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Since he wants to start Wade I like that, but he’d also play Trindall not Hazelton.

I think beteen Teig, Graham, McInnes we don’t need Trindall there but Fitz clearly wants the half cover.
Yeah he has shown he wants Tricky there, but we keep losing the ruck for periods. I think we need to have another go with 4 forwards.
 

bort

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Yeah he has shown he wants Tricky there, but we keep losing the ruck for periods. I think we need to have another go with 4 forwards.
You’re only rotating the middles though, not bringing 4 on.

4th guy won’t get a look in until late and enough can play big minutes we can definitely get by without.
 
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You’re only rotating the middles though, not bringing 4 on.

4th guy won’t get a look in until late and enough can play big minutes we can definitely get by without.
I don't disagree, just think a 4th fresh middle could come on when Tricky has been and make some impact to help us there.
 

apezza

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Some big calls to be made if we are going to get on track.

Teig is showing he needs to be our left edge second rower. We are consistently going through patches where we get rolled in the middle, so something needs to change there also.

I wonder if we could try:

8. Toby
10. Finucane
11. Nikora
12. Teig
13. Wade

14. Mcinnes
15. Hunt
16. Tolman
17. Hazleton

Or if preferable, swap Wade and Cam, but it just seems like he wants to start Wade.
I like it. I'm a big fan of McInnes coming off the bench.
 

bort

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Great article. I'm glad his this tough behind close doors because I was a bit worried how calm he was at press conferences after losing.
Yeah agree great article. Good to read a lot of positive press on Fitz but also nice to hear BHU coming in on day off to do some extra juijitsu with the coach
 

andrew's_sharks

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Love the focus on history and culture from Fitzy, he is showing them why they do things a certain way to motivate them with what to do on and off the field. Love it! he can build a dynasty with the sharks.
 
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Can anyone break down the pay wall ?

He’s like Skeletor’: Inside Fitzgibbon’s culture change at Cronulla https://www.smh.com.au/sport/nrl/he...lture-change-at-cronulla-20220718-p5b2dl.html

Dan WalshJuly 21, 2022 — 3.30pm
Craig Fitzgibbon has threatened to break Braden Hamlin-Uele’s arm more than once.
The 115kg Kiwi international always checks, just to make sure his coach is joking.

The North Queensland Cowboys take on the Cronulla Sharks in round 18 of the 2022 NRL season.
“On a day off Fitzy will get me to come in and he’s given me a couple of jiu-jitsu lessons,” Hamlin-Uele tells the Herald.
“He’s threatened to snap my arm and choke me out and he definitely can. I’m always hoping he’s joking about that.
“He’s skinny and lanky, he’s like Skeletor. But he moves really well and he’s really fluid. He puts me in these positions without breaking a sweat. I’m stressing out, trying to breathe and just battling thinking, ‘this is f--ked’.
“The guys who are in for their physio get to watch. It’s embarrassing when he puts on a show using me … But it makes me tougher too.”
For all the terror wrought by Siosifa Talakai on an edge, the magic Matt Moylan’s hamstrings no longer hold him back from and fishing-themed try celebrations, Fitzgibbon was always going to toughen the Sharks up.
No word sums up his own 263-game playing career better, nor was more likely to crop up again in the approach that has him pushing Todd Payten for Dally M coach of the year honours.
Ivan Cleary and his runaway Panthers outfit eight points clear at the ladder offer the only other competition come awards night. And come Saturday, they present the sternest test yet of what Fitzgibbon has instilled in a Cronulla club that taught him the ins and outs of rugby league.
With all but 35 of Fitzgibbon’s games coming in red, white and blue before another decade on Trent Robinson’s coaching staff, he will always be a Rooster – and a deserved life member at that.
But some of his most formative footballing years came in Cronulla’s dressing rooms, back when PointsBet Stadium was still known as Caltex Field and his father Allan was coaching one of the club’s most revered cohorts in the late-80s.

Since taking over at the Sharks, Fitzgibbon has made sure his squad knows exactly who walked down the tunnel before them.
“I guarantee to you, Fitzy’s our club man of the year,” veteran prop Andrew Fifita says.
“Lock it in already. What he’s brought in and done around the place, I haven’t seen Cronulla this good in a while.
“The history is a big thing. There’s a wall inside that has our team of the half-century on it, guys like Gavin Miller, ET (Andrew Ettingshausen), Steve Rogers.

“But there were younger guys in our team who didn’t know who Gavin Miller was.
“Over the pre-season we learned about all our old legends. We had full presentations on who these guys are, that Gavin Miller won two Dally Ms.
“Because of Fitzy, now they know, and they know the type of players who have come before them.”
Miller – a massive figure in both the game and those Cronulla sheds - was himself drawn back into the fold earlier this year, presenting a tearful, 198-centimetre Tom Hazelton with a debut jersey that came after five years in Cronulla colours on nothing more than a train-and-trial deal.
As was the case with high-profile recruits Dale Finucane and Cameron McInnes, Fitzgibbon saw the same work ethic and sound character in Hazelton that he has both targeted and gone about fostering in the simplest of ways.
“Everyone’s going in the same direction,” Fifita says.
“Half our team didn’t know the office staff at the start of the year. That’s changed.
“We have culture days and it’s not just the squad, it’s staff included, footy and admin guys, the board are all involved in those things. It’s all in.”
Including Fitzgibbon. A pre-season cultural day saw the rookie coach up in front of the entire club performing the Indigenous shake a leg dance.

He held no qualms about sending seven of his players off to the All Stars match in February to represent their Indigenous and Maori heritage, the largest representation from one NRL club.
Fitzgibbon’s buy-in to what matters to his players comes around when he asks for the same in return.
The 2020 and 2021 seasons saw Cronulla miss 35.4 and 37.9 tackles a game respectively, the worst of any side in the NRL, and a defence addict like Fitzgibbon’s worst nightmare.

Until North Queensland forced an above-average 45 misses last week, the Sharks had lowered that median figure to 27 on Fitzgibbon’s watch, the game’s second-best tally.
“When Fitzy came in he said he saw glimpses of a tough defence in us, but also a lot of warts in there too,” Hamlin-Uele says.
“Defending together has been the biggest thing. Last year, myself included, those extra efforts weren’t always there.
“Getting a third man into a tackle or rushing back to line when you’re not needed, that might not have happened. In the scheme of things, though, you’re making your job harder because they win that tackle and then get a roll on.
“So that extra energy first up in defence actually makes your job easier and we’ve tightened that up. We actually want to tackle.
“It’s an unselfish way to defend.”
A thoroughly Fitzgibbon way, too.
 

Sevshark

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If you use Chrome, use Incognito mode and you can generally get a couple of SMH articles before it asks you to join up.

You can also use a Tor Browser which is like a free VPN internet browser, pretty good at getting around paywall articles
 
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The Fitzy Effect: Craig finds success at Sharks but won't be as easy for new coaches at other clubs​

Paul Suttor
Fans at several fan bases are clinging to the hope that the new coach bounce will deliver instant results for their NRL team in 2023.

Well, maybe not the Wests Tigers, where everything old is new again with Tim Sheens coming back on board more than a decade after he was punted. Perhaps in 2025 they will benefit when Benji Marshall takes over. Maybe.

The Craig Fitzgibbon Effect is what supporters at the Bulldogs and Warriors are praying to see, as well as large sections of the Titans, Knights and definitely Dragons fan bases where each coach is on shaky ground.

Fitzgibbon has made an immediate impact at Cronulla after serving a lengthy coaching apprenticeship at the Roosters, taking a team that could not beat top-eight sides last year to a share of second spot heading into Saturday night’s daunting trip to face the runaway competition leaders, Penrith, at the premiers’ home ground, BlueBet Stadium.

But for every Fitzgibbon who turns a team around in less than a season there are several coaches who fail to make a dent and can be chewed up and spat out of the NRL coaching ranks before seeing out their first contract.

When Michael Hagan took Newcastle to a premiership in his first year as a coach in 2001 and Ricky Stuart did likewise the following year at the Roosters, young coaches were all the rage.

The NRL is a copycat league in many ways and other clubs fast-tracked recently retired players like Paul Langmack, Nathan Brown and Tony Kemp with limited success.

No matter how good a rookie coach is or how long he’s served an apprenticeship under whichever multiple premiership-winning mentor, achieving success at NRL clubs is never as simple as turning the keys over to the “next big thing” of the clipboard brigade.

Fitzgibbon has received praise for waiting for the best opportunity to come up but why did the Sharks fit that description?

Because they were a team already on the up – they had cleared out a lot of the veterans from the 2016 premiership-winning team and predecessor John Morris deserves plenty of credit for blooding several stars of the future during his aborted three-year tenure.

Blayke Brailey, Braydon Trindall, Teig Wilton, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Briton Nikora and Tuby Rudolf were each handed their debut by Morris while Braden Hamlin-Uele, Will Kennedy, Connor Tracey and Sione Katoa had only played minimal NRL matches before he made them permanent first-graders.

He also rescued Siosifa Talakai from three years in the proverbial wilderness to now become an Origin representative.

Fitzgibon had a solid base of talent, added a few astute signings in Melbourne’s Mr Fix-It Nicho Hynes to play halfback, and Storm veteran Dale Finucane and Dragons skipper Cameron McInnes to shore up the pack.

None of the teams currently struggling on the final six rungs of the ladder, as well as the incoming Dolphins, have anywhere near that level of young playing talent for a new coach to transform into title contenders.


Canterbury, with Viliame Kikau and Reed Mahoney, next year joining 2022 star recruits Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Burton at the club are probably the most likely of the cellar dwellers to rise.

Panthers assistant Cameron Ciraldo has been likened to Fitzgibbon for his tactical nous and decision to patiently bide his time as Ivan Cleary’s understudy.

If he fills the Bulldogs vacancy, as has been widely tipped, he will be facing an uphill battle to transform the rest of the roster into a team that is a finals contender.

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Young fullback Jake Averillo has enormous potential and a few forwards are reliable but there will still be several deficiencies across the park at the Dogs.

Fitzy’s focus unwavering​

Fitzgibbon’s next mammoth task is to prove the Sharks are not just happy to be there in the finals but worthy contenders for the crown.

And there’d no better way to showcase that than by upsetting the premiers on Saturday night.

Coming off impressive performances over the Storm and Cowboys to make it five wins on the trot, the Sharks have been largely unaffected by the representative period.

Talakai was their only player who received any Origin game time and Mulitalo, Katoa, Nikora their only representatives in the Pacific Tests.

Compare that with the Panthers who had 14 players adding to their NRL workload – seven NSW players as well as Viliame Kikau, James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota, Charlie Staines, Taylan May, Spencer Leniu and Izack Tago on international duty.

You would think capping off a five-game winning streak with a 26-12 upset in Townsville would satisfy the coach but not so with Fitzgibbon.

“We’ve just been building. We’ve started to win a couple of games in different fashions, we’ve had to grind a few out, we’ve won well on other occasions. We’ve enjoyed the process of finding ways to win and we’re confident with our preparation,” he said.

“We will have to be close to our best to be serious [against Penrith]. It’s the ultimate test at the moment, as far as NRL standards go.

“You’re always searching for an improvement or some gains in your performance and I just felt like we were short in a few areas last week but on the main I was happy with our attitude and the result.”

Becoming true contenders​

History has shown in the NRL that to win a premiership you need a top-class playmaker and Cronulla head into the business end of the season with a former representative star in Matt Moylan at five-eighth and a fringe Origin candidate in Hynes.

While he is not considered among the elite halves like Daly Cherry-Evans, Jahrome Hughes and Saturday night’s opposite number Nathan Cleary, the coach has faith that Hynes will exhaust himself physically as well as all his options on the field to ensure his team is victorious every time he pulls on the black, white and blue No.7 jersey.

“One thing about Nicho, I think, when you watch him play, he’s always at it,” Fitzgibbon said.

“He’s been incredibly consistent in that every time he takes the field he doesn’t stop, like his output, his workrate, his effort and his enthusiasm is pretty relentless.


“I don’t see any game Nicho’s played for us where he hasn’t gone out and had a crack whether he’s got it right or wrong. He’s always having a maximum output there.”

He has been forced to reshuffle his outside backs with Katoa tearing a pectoral muscle while diving over to score a long-range try against North Queensland, ruling him out for the rest of the season.

Tracey has switched to the right wing with Talakai coming back into left centre after getting a week off after his debut Origin campaign.

“He’s a really infectious player for our team,” Fitzgibbon said.

“We’re extremely confident he can move to that position and do a good job for us. When you watch him, he’s all heart, he’s all effort, 100 miles an hour. The players trust him and love him so he’s definitely a good in for us.”

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Fitzgibbon is much more comfortable talking up his players than soaking up praise for his efforts in taking the team from ninth last year to a chance at finishing in the top two.

“We’re really proud of how much work with put in and the consistency level we’ve found this season. We’ve had a tough last couple of weeks, you just can’t jump too far ahead.

“You don’t want to take stock, we don’t want to sign off on where we’re at, at this stage. We just want to continually strengthen.

“I don’t think it’d be wise of us to be too happy with where we’re at because we’ve got to find some more levels and we’ve got to constantly try to push that.”
 
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