Cronulla coach John Morris requested a new contract midway through last season, only for his wish for an extension rejected by the club as uncertainty over his future grows.
Morris has less than 12 months remaining on his current deal at the Sharks, and a report in the Sydney Morning Herald claims that the 40-year-old had already been told to focus on his current deal.
According to one Sydney Morning Herald source, Morris was told: “You came into the job with eyes wide open and knew the challenges you would be inheriting.”
They also pointed to the fact the club was unsure of his standing due to the fact the game had only just got back on the field after the COVID-19-enforced shutdown.
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Morris took Cronulla’s head coaching role late in the run-up to the 2019 season following Shane Flanagan’s suspension and has commendably finished in the top eight both years.
In 2019 and 2020 the club have been playing under the salary cap due to backdated sanctions, but finished in the finals under his watch.
All the while, Morris has had blood a number of rookies including now-established first-graders Ronaldo Mulitalo, Sione Katoa and Siosifa Talakai.
He has also had to deal with injuries to key men like Matt Moylan, Wade Graham, Shaun Johnson, Josh Dugan and Andrew Fifita.
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There has also been the retirement of club legend Paul Gallen and the departures of some of the club’s older statesman such as Luke Lewis and Matt Prior.
Lewis and Gallen will return to the club on Morris’ coaching staff for this season and it comes at a time when the off-contract head coach is facing intense scrutiny over his future.
The Sharks boss had a tough chat with the injury-hit Fifita in recent weeks where he discussed the option of medical retirement.
Meanwhile, Flanagan’s ban is set to expire at the end of the 2021 season meaning he is free to coach again.
With Morris unsigned beyond this coming year, a return for the premiership-winning Flanagan is not out of the question.
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But speaking on Triple M, Penrith legend Mark Geyer said Morris deserved another shot.
“We keep hearing Shane Flanagan mentioned as someone to take over from John Morris,” Geyer said.
“I think it is a bit unfair. He may have been thrust into the job a little bit soon, but he has got them into the finals two years in a row. He has inherited a roster that he didn’t want or it is not his.
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“As a coach you want total autonomy because you are either going to live by the sword or die by the sword. I think we saw that with Dean Pay as well.
“It is very hard for a coach who is coaching in first grade and doesn’t have the team he wants.”