Craig Fitzgibbon, who coached the Cronulla side to second position on the NRL ladder in 2022 in his first year as head coach, has signed a new long-term contract to remain at the Sharks until at least the end of the 2027 season.
Already contracted for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, the new deal will now see Fitzgibbon remain at the Sharks for a further three years.
While focused on the upcoming NRL season, Fitzgibbon was excited about the opportunity presented and to what the future might hold.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to build on what we started here at the Sharks last year,” Fitzgibbon said. “We have outstanding playing talent, backed by a Board led by Steve Mace who are supportive of what we are trying to achieve.
“We enjoyed our first season, but our journey has just begun and we are looking to create an even stronger environment going forward,” Fitzgibbon added.
Sharks Chairman Steve Mace, who had previously expressed a desire to lock down Fitzgibbon as the Club’s long term head coach, was excited to secure the services of a man he believes can deliver the Sharks their second NRL premiership.
“Craig managed to create an immediate impression when appointed to the role of head coach, his results then spoke for themselves and we believe as a Board and Management that the sky is the limit for our football program under his leadership,” Mace said.
“I indicated some months ago that is was our goal to have Craig as our head coach long term and to get the deal done and to make it a reality, is extremely satisfying.”
After a celebrated playing career, one which included 19 Tests for Australia, 11 matches for NSW, a Clive Churchill Medal and a premiership at the Sydney Roosters in 2002, following two years playing for Hull in the UK Super League, Fitzgibbon returned to Australia in 2012 to begin his coaching apprenticeship.
Working as an assistant at the Roosters, Fitzgibbon was a member of the coaching staff which helped produce three NRL titles, in 2013, 2018 and 2019, making him a head coaching target for a handful of NRL clubs.
Declining several offers as he continued to learn his craft, Fitzgibbon eventually agreed to join the Sharks as head coach for 2022, a year in which the team would win a club record 18 games and finish second on the ladder following the 25-round home and away season.
CEO Dino Mezzatesta was involved in the initial approach and contract negotiations that landed Fitzgibbon at the Sharks and was thrilled to have also played a role in helping to secure this latest contract extension.
“Our decision to offer this extension to Craig wasn’t just about on-field results, which were certainly impressive last year in his first season in charge. It is also about the culture he is attempting to instill, not only amongst the NRL playing group, but throughout the entire football program,” Mezzatesta said.
“We believe Craig is setting our Club up for success, not only in the short term and for the upcoming season, but also for the years to come.”