Old school... Injured utility John Morris is filling the old-school player-coach role next to interim James Shepherd. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Cronulla are in no hurry to name a new interim head coach before this weekend's clash against the Sydney Roosters, with injured utility John Morris stepping in to help James Shepherd prepare the team for their biggest test of the season.
Sharks chief executive Steve Noyce spoke to numerous candidates on Wednesday who are interested in filling the coaching void in The Shire until the suspended Shane Flanagan returns to his post at the end of the regular season.
There was speculation that favourite Steve Price might be announced for the highly scrutinised position on Wednesday afternoon, but Noyce says the club is taking its time to find the right man.
Noyce says respected assistant coach Shepherd and 300-game star Morris were at this stage not being considered to take the reins of the team permanently for the rest of the year.
However, he said the pair had been impressive in the way they've taken control of proceedings in the most tumultuous of circumstances since Peter Sharp quit as interim coach on Tuesday.
"James is a quieter sort of guy who has been in the background. He's a really strong student of the game and has obviously been working with Shane previously and Sharpy," said Noyce.
"He's brought guys through and knows the squad well.
"It's good to have an ally like John. Experienced and obviously interested in the coaching side of it.
Shepherd had a long association at Balmain and Wests Tigers - where he worked alongside Noyce and Sharks football manager Darren Mooney.
He also spent time with the Melbourne Storm as a recruitment man before originally joining Cronulla as NYC coach in 2011.
For Morris, Sharp's departure allows him to make the most of an unfortunate neck injury which looks like it might have prematurely ended his outstanding career.
The 33-year-old has completed a Masters in Elite Coaching at Sydney University and revealed earlier this year that he hopes to take up a coaching role with the club once he retires.
Morris has already been working with Sharks junior representative teams and now gets a taste of the big time.
Shepherd and Morris ran a closed training session on Wednesday afternoon as Noyce and the Sharks front office busily talked with coaching hopefuls.
An announcement could come as early as Thursday, but Noyce said he hasn't put a time frame on any decision with a lot riding on the appointment.
The Sharks' playing group, already dealing with the ongoing ASADA saga, have been rocked by the Todd Carney sacking and need some strong direction to get them through the year.
"The project is to make sure the best person gets the job prior to Shane coming back on the 17th of September," Noyce said.
"Priority one is the right person so if that takes a little bit of time to make sure we get that through (we'll take that time).
"There's been a number of people show interest. There's people contacting us and we're chatting to people."
Meanwhile, Sharp has moved on quickly from his departure from the Sharks, with reports suggesting he's in the hunt for the vacant recruitment officer job at the Parramatta Eels - a club he's worked at previously.