Dan Walsh, NRL.com
Sharks coach Peter Sharp has resigned from his post, effective immediately, as Cronulla's annus horribilis becomes the stuff of nightmares.
With regular coach Shane Flanagan suspended by the NRL for his role in the club's controversial supplement program in 2011, Sharp reluctantly stepped into the role at the start of the year and has overseen one of the most tumultuous club seasons in recent memory before making the call to stand down, informing players and staff of his decision on Tuesday morning.
The Sharks have endured a wretched run in 2014, winning just three matches and setting an unwanted piece of rugby league history in becoming the first side to be held scoreless in three consecutive matches, during which skipper Paul Gallen publicly questioned Sharp's commitment to the job and his influence over the players.
Having snapped their point-scoring drought with the biggest comeback win in the club's history in last Friday's 24-22 defeat of the Broncos, any celebrations were short-lived when a lewd picture of five-eighth Todd Carney went viral over the weekend, resulting in the troubled star being sacked by the club.
The decision to terminate Carney's contract has caused consternation within the Sharks playing group, with a crisis meeting being called on Monday in the wake of the announcement, which Sharp was absent from due to a pre-booked medical appointment.
Sharp said via a statement on the Sharks website that he believed the decision to stand down was the correct one for himself and the club.
"I've certainly enjoyed my time at the Sharks and I've met a number of wonderful people. I thank the Sharks for the opportunity both as an assistant and as the head coach, even with the challenges we've faced this year," Sharp said.
"But I think the decision I've made to step down is in the best interests of the club and I believe for me it is in my best interests as well.
"I hope the players can fulfil their potential and finish the season on a positive note."
The embattled club will appoint a replacement coach in the coming days, with speculation indicating former Tigers and current Kangaroos mentor Tim Sheens and former Sharks halfback Brett Kimmorley are the leading candidates for the position.
Cronulla CEO Steve Noyce admitted Sharp had been on a hiding to nothing in stepping up from the assistant role he has filled at the Sharks since 2011, but commended the departing coach on his efforts under the difficult circumstances.
"While very sad to see him go it was fitting that Peter departs on his own terms, that being on the back of a record-breaking comeback win for the club last Friday night in Brisbane," Noyce said.
"The club certainly appreciates his efforts in what has been a very difficult season and while he may have expressed a reluctance to take on the role when first handed the reins, once appointed Peter worked exceptionally hard and always acted in the best interests of the players and the club."