John Morris has coached his last game for Cronulla after Craig Fitzgibbon inked a three-year deal to take over the club from 2022.
Morris has relinquished his coaching post, effective immediately, after being told he would not be retained beyond this season.
Fitzgibbon has provided the Roosters with an assurance he won't leave the club before the end of the season, and there is no chance of the Tricolours releasing him earlier than October.
Current Sharks assistant Josh Hannay will take charge of the Sharks on an interim basis for the rest of 2021 after Cronulla confirmed the coaching shake-up on Tuesday.
"This decision was certainly not lightly taken, much discussion and consideration took place at board and management level before Craig was approached and now appointed, and we are thrilled he has accepted the position," Sharks CEO Dino Mezzatesta said in a club statement on Tuesday evening.
"Craig has served a long and successful apprenticeship under Trent Robinson at the Roosters and alongside Brad Fittler at a state level and we are confident he can emulate that success as a head coach here at the Sharks."
Roosters officials contacted Sharks counterparts on Tuesday pushing for the coaching saga to be put to bed, wary of focus around Fitzgibbon distracting from their own campaign.
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The Sharks' desire to be a consistent top-four side that regularly challenges for premierships, and a hesitancy around Morris being the man to deliver that, have prompted the club to move on from the one-time 300-gamer.
As part of that bid the club has sought out Storm champion Craig Bellamy around a coaching director's role, though he is expected to recommit to Melbourne in 2022.
Morris's abrupt exit after a 26-18 loss to the Roosters last week brings an end to his long association with the Sharks.
Given his efforts in taking Cronulla to back-to-back finals despite operating under a salary cap penalty and to the backdrop of various on and off-field issues, the Sharks' decision has perplexed many in the NRL circles.
"In announcing the appointment, we need to acknowledge the contribution John Morris has made at the Cronulla club as a player, development and 20's coach, NRL assistant, and as our head coach in 2019-2020 and to this point in our 2021 season," Mezzatesta said.
"As coach John has brought through a number of promising youngsters to where they are now performing at an NRL level, his work ethic can't be questioned and there is little doubt he has a bright future as a coach in the NRL. We certainly wish him future success.
"The decision made by the club was an extremely difficult one however we now back the appointment of Craig, look forward to the future and to him taking the team to the next level in delivering success in 2022 and beyond".
It's understood that Morris was informed by Mezzatesta on Tuesday afternoon that he will not be at the club beyond this season, after he and his agent Chris Orr had met with the CEO in a bid to bring his future to a head.
At that meeting he was told, according to Orr, that he remained the "front-runner" to coach the Sharks next season in what he described as a "positive and productive" sit-down.
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Morris is understood to have requested a chance to present his case for an extension to Cronulla's board at Monday's meeting, but now won't get the chance.
It will be Fitzgibbon now that also makes the calls on Cronulla's looming roster rejig, with more than a dozen players off-contract including stars Shaun Johnson, Matt Moylan, Aaron Woods and Josh Dugan.
It's understood that quartet takes up the best part of $3 million in salary cap space, with the club expediting their coaching call with recruitment and retention in mind.
Morris has enjoyed strong support from Sharks players having developed many of their best young juniors and taken them to the finals twice in as many season.
Captain Wade Graham, who called for a decision to be made earlier on Tuesday to ensure Cronulla's 2021 campaign isn't derailed, denied suggestions of a mass player exit given their loyalty to Morris.
Cronulla officials do not expect to lose any players they want to keep and have already kicked off talks with the likes of Toby Rudolf, Will Kennedy and Siosifa Talakai about new deals long before Fitzgibbon's talks escalated.
Attention now turns to Cameron Ciraldo's future at Penrith, after he was approached about a position as Fitzgibbon's assistant next season.
Ciraldo is understood to be interested in the role given he lives in The Shire, started his playing career with Cronulla and is firm friends with Fitzgibbon.
Like the Roosters assistant he too has a year remaining on his Panthers contract, with remaining at Penrith still an attractive proposition given the bright future he has helped generate out west.
For Fitzgibbon his first head coaching post has been several years coming.
Regarded as the next NRL coach in waiting for some time, the 43-year-old has knocked back approaches to take over Newcastle, the Warriors and Dragons in recent years.
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His loyalty to the Roosters, where he was awarded life membership for over 20 years' service as a player and assistant, played a significant part, but so too did a desire to wait for the right NRL opportunity.
His linking with Cronulla continues a remarkable father-son relationship in the game after his father Allan coached the Sharks from 1988 to 1991.
The Sharks travel to Newcastle on Friday night under Hannay, where they will take on the Knights without captain Graham and Dugan due to head knocks suffered last week.
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