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Shane Flanagan.

Cronulla's interim head coach John Morris is no certainty of securing the top job full-time with the Sharks interested in having a look to see who might be interested in the role following Shane Flanagan's surprise resignation.

Morris, who said last week he wanted the head coach role if it became available, would of course be looked on favourably by the board as he has a great record in the lower grades, and a great rapport with the NRL squad after being Flanagan's assistant.

But NRL.com understands there is no rush to promote Morris without seeing who else could be in the mix now Flanagan has removed himself from the picture.

Former Sharks players Cameron Ciraldo and Trent Barrett - who are without a head coaching gig despite each filling the role at Penrith and Manly respectively last season - are two other candidates who it is understood Cronulla would consider to replace Flanagan. 

Former Dragons head coach Steve Price is a former Sharks assistant who was part of the 2016 premiership win but he re-signed with Warrington in late December on a two-year extension. 

St Helens Super League club head coach Justin Holbrook, a former halfback with the Knights, Panthers and Roosters, is another name which has been linked with Cronulla as a potential option.

Morris has not been tested in the NRL spotlight and it is unclear if the Sharks will make their call before round one of the Telstra Premiership, which is eight weeks away. The Sharks play the Knights on Friday March 15 at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Flanagan resigns

Flanagan and the Sharks on Monday morning released a joint statement confirming he would not be returning to the post.

The statement said the could would come "to a decision and make an announcement on a head coach for 2019 in the coming weeks".

Sharks chairman Dino Mezzatesta thanked Flanagan for his efforts and the success he brought in seven full seasons as head coach.

"Shane was our first premiership-winning coach, he is the coach of our Team of the Half Century and he has given exceptional service and dedication to our club," Mezzatesta said.

"He worked tirelessly to build our team and our club into a competitive force and he will forever hold a special place in the club's history."

Flanagan began his tenure at the club in 2007 as an assistant to Ricky Stuart and took over the head coaching role late in the 2010 season.

He coached the Sharks for 185 NRL games, leading them to the finals six times, including the 2016 history-making title.

Flanagan is now preparing his response to the NRL's breach notice - due by January 31 - that he had regular contact with the club during his 12-month suspension in 2014 over the illegal peptides use in 2011.

In Monday's statement, Flanagan spoke of the toll on his family in recent weeks.

"This was obviously one of the toughest decisions of my 36-year rugby league career to resign from the head coaching role at Cronulla.

"The last month has taken an enormous mental and emotional toll on my family and myself.

Interim Sharks coach John Morris.
Interim Sharks coach John Morris. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"I intend on responding to the notice issued by the NRL, however I have made this decision in the best interests of the entire club and the players to allow the best possible preparation for the 2019 season without constant speculation and uncertainty as to who their head coach will be.

"I want to thank the Cronulla board and management, both past and present, as well as my dedicated coaching staff, all of whom I have worked closely with over seven seasons.

"I especially want to extend my gratitude to the many players who I have been fortunate to coach at Cronulla. Without doubt, I will hold the entire 2016 playing squad, staff, supporters and unforgettable achievement to deliver the club its first premiership, forever in my heart."

Flanagan came within 21 games of breaking John Lang's record (206) for most first grade games as head coach of the Sharks.