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In Fitzy We Trust

I know someone (cant remember who), suggested Fitzgibbon might choose different teams depending on opposition."Horses for courses", I think was the term used .I Assume It would be minimal changes to try not to disrupt team harmony too much . Maybe one side with focus on defence ,another on attack ? Maybe two or three changes 4 at most. As an exercise in "hurry up and bring on the Football so we dont have to babble on with wild speculation" has anyone got any ideas what those changes might be ?


Staff member
There are a number of fringe players that will benefit from game time, that will not let the team down.

I’m thinking:


They can be rotated in and out…

2012....Sharks Year

First Grade
Reckon Fitz would have learnt a lot from the Rorters injury toll last year and the need to have the whole roster ready to fill the gaps. Usually we get to about player 19 or 20 and you query the depth beyond that. This year I feel we go deeper... Especially in the pigs.

Mr Angry

Not a Referee
Sadly there will be injuries, contact sport, rotation will happen naturally, no need to force it.

Can you bet on the Jets? Mattherson remains coach, keeps losing his young chargers to first grade.

Will Kennedy gets the bench and fans on thier feet.

Fitz will learn to appreciate Greg, Morris certainly did, does quality work. IMO he and the Jets have proven a fruitful relationship to have.
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Tiger Shark

Talk of Greg retiring has been around for a while, not sure how many years he'll be coach. The last few years being non starts probably kept him interested so he can have a one or two more full coaching seasons.

Can't speak for the relationship, I'm sure it's good but if we're not going to set up our own team and stay with the Jets maybe an opportunity for the Sharks to put a coach in. So to help smooth out the transition from Flegg to First grade, team selections etc.

Again not to say it's not but seems like it would only help things.
Another Fitzy initiative taking shape in the culture of the club. Well done

Deeper bond and real pride: Why the Sharks are embracing culture​

AuthorBrad WalterNRL.com Senior ReporterTimestampMon 21 Mar 2022, 05:24 PM
Brad Walter

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Andrew Fifita joked that he wished Cameron McInnes could play for Tonga at the end-of-season World Cup after the star forward surprised his new Sharks team-mates by arriving at the club’s cultural day wearing a traditional tupenu and ta’ovala.
McInnes’s surname is of Scottish origin but his partner Rachel has Tongan heritage, and they named their now almost four-year-old son, Talanoa.

“Cam explained that he is a full Australian dude, but he is culturally aware of the Tongan side,” Fifita said. “He came in full tupenu, the shirt, the ta’ovala … everything was spot on with Cam. He knows how to represent, he knows how it is with the church and about Tongan culture.
“It was a real eye opener for myself. We would love him to declare for Tonga at the World Cup but if not, hopefully his son can play in a few years.”
Andrew Fifita leads the Sipi Tau for Tonga
Andrew Fifita leads the Sipi Tau for Tonga©NRL Photos
While McInnes isn’t eligible to play for Tonga, his ties to the Pacific nation was just one of the things Cronulla players learned about each other as they detailed their backgrounds, shared food, danced and played games during the pre-season cultural session at PointsBet Stadium.
Cronulla players spoke about the value of the session ahead of the NRL’s multi-cultural round and praised new coach Craig Fitzgibbon for the emphasis he has placed on culture at the club.
The Sharks had seven players involved in February's All Stars match and while some rival coaches were concerned about their stars missing training or risking injury Fitzgibbon understood the benefits of them embracing their culture.
“It was honestly one of the best days I have been a part of in my NRL career,” halfback Nicho Hynes said. “We had the Tongan boys, the Samoan boys and us Indigenous boys get up and talk about where we are from, and our mob.
Nicho Hynes performs the Unity Dance with the Indigenous All Stars
Nicho Hynes performs the Unity Dance with the Indigenous All Stars©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos
“To learn about who your brothers are and where they are from was just cool, especially to see the raw emotion and how proud they were about talking about it.”

Winger Matt Ikuvalu said: “All of the Tongan boys wore our tupenus and our ta’ovalas, which is kind of like a sarong and another wrap around it. We spoke about our culture and we had a big feast with a few pigs on a spit. It was just a really good day”.
Fifita’s father bought four pigs that he started cooking from 2am, while the Tongan players, including Ikuvalu, Siosifa Talakai and Sione Katoa, prepared traditional food and made Otai, a famous Tongan watermelon drink.
The Samoans, who included Ronaldo Mulitalo, Braden Hamlin-Uele, Franklin Pele and Jonaiah Lualua, did the same, while the players split into teams based on their heritage to play games.
“We put on a feed for the boys and everyone ripped into it, which is really nice because they got a taste of what our culture is about,” Mulitalo said.
“We had a bit of taro, chop suey [sapasui], raw fish and all of the islander foods … it kind of took us back home. I can’t thank Fitzy and the club enough for putting that on for us.
“It just felt like a bit of unity was happening within the team and we were forming a bit of a bond that no one noticed at the time. It is understanding where everyone comes from.
“I learned a bit about the Indigenous boys and their culture, and it was the same for us. It just creates a deeper connection and respectfulness amongst the group.”
The NRL is arguably the most diverse sporting competition in Australia, with 45 per cent of players having Pacific heritage and another 12 per cent identifying as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
There are 77 players in this year’s Telstra Premiership who were born overseas, while 161 have a parent who was born overseas.
“Fitzy is really big on culture, and he knows that we are a pretty diverse group,” Fifita said.
“I brought in boomerangs and didgeridoos, and for our Indigenous side we had seven of us stand up in the middle. I got to speak in native tongue to the group and I got to explain that it wasn’t far from here where Captain Cook sailed in and took our land of us.”
Hynes added: “All of us Indigenous boys stood in a map of where we are from and our tribe. We spoke about who we are and about our families”.

The Sharks are planning another session in which players of Maori, Lebanese and other heritages will celebrate their cultures.
“Toby Rudolf is German so everyone is going to get up and talk about where they are from,” Hynes said. “Sione Katoa is a guy who doesn’t really talk openly in front of everyone so for him to get up and speak in Tongan language and about where he is from makes you really proud.
“I encourage the club to do that for the rest of the time that I am here and after that because it’s something we should know. We are going out to war with these guys every week so to know where they are from makes you want to turn up even more for them.”


Also meant to mention somewhere I was really happy for him getting his first win as a head coach. Takes the pressure off that would have built had we lost.


First Grade
That is epic. Also highlights why they all love Fifita so much. Overpaid in 2022 sure but a big brother to everyone who when he buys in is a real leader.
Good call.

Fitz seems to be pulling the right reins to build the relationships that leads to team cohesion. A tight team is a tough team.


What a move it was bringing in a first grade back like Ikuvalo in case on injury…. Genius. Already paying dividends!

Also a few of our tries were obviously game plan intended and executed perfectly. The grubber after the crash ball that took the fullback out of position was perfect.

Workong over Suli in defence all game.

Early kicking obviously under instructions from Fitz.

Yes it’s early in the season, but so much to be impressed by.

Tony Seibs

What a move it was bringing in a first grade back like Ikuvalo in case on injury…. Genius. Already paying dividends!

Also a few of our tries were obviously game plan intended and executed perfectly. The grubber after the crash ball that took the fullback out of position was perfect.

Workong over Suli in defence all game.

Early kicking obviously under instructions from Fitz.

Yes it’s early in the season, but so much to be impressed by.
Everything they did had purpose.


First Grade
The thing I have really noticed in the two games (it was probably there in the first game too, but was a bit annoyed of the start) is that they seem to have this really good shape and structure that allows the team to play what's in front of them. They aren't just following a simple sweep/block play and hope it works, they have structures that allow plays to make decisions and options based on what they see.

Here are two examples:

In the Parra game, the Sharks were finding some success with having a playmaker sweeping out the back. Generally Will Kennedy on the right and Hynes on the left. In the second half, the Eels started reading and defending this better allowing them to shut down plays. This ultimately setup the last play with the Sharks going left, Moylan sees the Eels defence moving to shut down Hynes, so he gave the short ball to Wilton for the game-tying try.

Then in the Dragons game, the Sharks had the crash ball under the posts and set up for a backline movement to the left that the defence was setting up for. Brailey makes a quick read of the crash ball drawing the fullback, and the outside defence rushing up to shut down the movement to the left and puts in the small kick for Uele to finish. The thing that is important to note is that both Uele and Tolman (who was closer to the PTB) would have been pushing up for the movement to the left anyway, so the structure literally gave Brailey that option from the start.

It is an extremely underrated part of good teams structures. They are setup to allow great players to read what's in front of them. It's a strong philosophy that players are there because of hard work and talent, not because they benefited from structure. In the past, the Sharks would have kept trying what worked earlier in the game even if the defence had adjusted.


Just watching the second half. The thing I just noticed is the line speed at the 75th minute. Sharks have struggled with their line speed over the last few years, especially throughout the entire match. They now have players who can do this, these same players making a difference in slowing the attach with better tackling techniques. I hope they can maintain this. Massive change for the good!


The didn’t want the final score to be 36-18. They had pride in that defence with only 11 men. Previous shark iterations would have said oh well we still won and walked away with a 36-24 win.