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Sharks interim coach John Morris.

Cronulla chairman Barry Russell has defended the decision to install John Morris as interim Sharks head coach despite Shane Flanagan not yet responding to the NRL's breach notice against him.

Flanagan has until the end of January to show cause why he shouldn't be de-registered for having contact with the club regarding the recruitment and retention of players suspended in 2014 over the Sharks' peptides scandal.

Having no dealings with Cronulla that season was one of the NRL's stipulations.

The NRL handed down its findings on December 19. But on January 3 Cronulla released a statement saying Morris, one of Flanagan's two assistants alongside Jim Dymock, would be "interim head coach effective immediately".

"We needed the one person in that position, we needed the one voice – we needed a boss," Russell told NRL.com.

"But the word 'interim' is crucial in all this. Until we have some clarity in regards to Shane we can't make ultimate decisions on the head coach," Russell added, when asked if it was premature for the club announcement while Flanagan still had three weeks to state his case.

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"As a club, we have to wait until the dust settles on all that," he said.

"John is very well credentialed, very respected by the [coaching] staff and players, and the boys are back at training on Monday. So we wanted to have a head coach in place for Monday.

"Everyone was in agreement that this was the way to go and Jimmy was also in agreement and supports the decision."

After the NRL handed down its sanctions against Flanagan and Cronulla (an $800,000 fine), the Sharks said that both Morris and Dymock would be the interim coaches.

But Russell said it was always the club's intention to have one person in command for the lead-up to the 2019 Telstra Premiership season.

"You need to have the over-ruling voice," he told NRL.com.

"Obviously we have a strong group of senior players but you still need someone in charge as situations arise in getting an NRL team ready for trial games and the season ahead.

"John was ready to step up and our endorsement of that has been really well received by players and members. Since we put out the release today we've had a great response from Sharks fans and members.

"He's guided our lower grades and has a good relationship with our younger players. He'll do a good job and then we'll see how things pan out."

Morris was named the NRL's NYC coach of the year in 2017 after taking the Sharks Under-20s side to the minor premiership – 19 wins and only three losses.

Shane Flanagan.
Shane Flanagan. ©NRL Photos

Six Sharks players, including halfback Kyle Flanagan (Shane's son), were named in the NRL's NYC team of the year for 2017. Kyle made his NRL debut last year under his father playing the one game.

Morris completed his Masters of Coaching in 2014, before becoming the Elite Development Coach of the Sharks Academy in 2015 and taking over as Cronulla's Holden Cup Coach in 2016.

Morris, 38, played 14 seasons of NRL reaching the 300-game club in the final year of his playing career while at Cronulla. He previously played for Newcastle, Parramatta and the Wests Tigers. Morris had five seasons with the Sharks.

Russell said Dymock would remain a valued member of the NRL coaching staff.

"Jimmy has offered his full support to John. He was part of the decision-making process and he's had a great relationship with John as assistants to Shane," Russell said.

"He's keen – like everyone else – to get back to training and get ready for our trial games and a successful 2019 season."

The Sharks play Manly (February 23) at Lottoland and the Knights (March 2) in Maitland ahead of their first round clash against Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 15.