Phil Gould says the Sharks had no choice but to send John Morris packing immediately after making a call on their future.
John Morris’ mum led the outrage about her son’s instant dismissal as Cronulla coach but Phil Gould has come to the Sharks’ defence, saying once the club knew he wasn’t part of their future, ties had to be cut instantly.
Morris led the Sharks to finals campaigns in both his seasons as coach and his mother Sharyn took to Facebook to point out he was up for the challenge of getting his team there again this year, even after it had become clear that he wouldn’t be returning to coach in 2022.
“Even though he knew they weren’t re-signing him, he wanted to finish out his contract,” she wrote. “He loves his players and staff. His only question – why? They couldn’t answer him.”
While the Sharks may not have given Morris a clear answer about why he had to part company with the club immediately, Gould told Wide World of Sports Six Tackles with Gus podcast that there was a simple explanation.
With 19 matches still to play, followed by a potential finals campaign, Morris would have had at least 38 opportunities to chip away at the decision made by the club, potentially making Craig Fitzgibbon’s job harder when he arrives in November.
“Put yourself in his shoes and Cronulla’s shoes,” Gould said.
“We’re at Round 5, there’s 19 more games. That’s 19 more press conferences that he’s got to do after the game, it’s 19 more pre-match press conferences he’s got to do prior to the game.
“What do you think the subject matter’s going to be every time he sits in front of the microphone and the media?”
Gould argued that letting Morris stay on was a lose-lose situation for the Sharks. If they had a successful season on the field the outrage at the perceived injustice of Morris’ sacking would have whipped the fans into a frenzy of anti-board and anti-management sentiment, yet if they had an unsuccessful season on the field the finger of blame would be pointed at the club for destabilising the faith in Morris.
“Once you’ve decided he’s not the coach for the future it has to end and show him his respect and don’t put him through the trauma of having to coach for the rest of the year,” Gould said.
“You make that decision for him because some coaches might think ‘well, I’ll push on and do it for the rest of the season and show everyone,’ but it doesn’t work out like that.
“I’ve never seen those situations end well.”
While many Sharks fans are arguing a final season for Morris would have been the just outcome, the club will move on under the guidance of interim coach Josh Hannay, who played a similar role for the Cowboys for the final 10 games of last season after Paul Green was axed.
Hannay moved to the Sharks in the off-season to serve as Morris’ senior assistant but instead has a further 19 games to show what he’s made of as a senior coach.
It’s a job few would envy and it starts in Newcastle this Friday, with the injury-ravaged Knights hosting Cronulla in the 6pm (AEST) game.
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