The Sharks Board of Directors have confirmed the appointment of James Shepherd as NRL head coach for the remainder of 2014.
In the role in an interim capacity since the resignation of Peter Sharp three weeks ago, Shepherd will now officially assume the position for the final seven matches of the season.
In making the announcement Sharks Chairman Damian Keogh was confident Shepherd had the coaching ability and respect of the playing group to capably handle the role.
“James has expressed a willingness to step into the role and is familiar with the players, staff and the systems here at the club so his appointment will result in minimal disruption,” Keogh said. “He is an accomplished coach who we have every confidence in and he has the backing of the senior playing group.
“It has been a challenging season for all concerned, with James now our third NRL coach, added to the fact that we have been without key players such as Gallen, Lewis and Fifita for much of the year and have battled a massive injury toll.
“Through it all James has gone about his business very competently and with a minimum of fuss and we have no doubt he will continue to be able to do that for our remaining games this year,” Keogh added.
In accepting the appointment Shepherd was grateful of the chance being afforded him and was looking to do all he could in helping the Sharks finish a difficult season strongly.
“I’m privileged to have been given this opportunity,” Shepherd began. “Having been at the club a number of years now I’m happy here and comfortable with the playing group.
“Over the past few weeks the senior players have been excellent and with their continued support we will come together to try to win as many games as possible over the next seven weeks to finish our season on a positive note.”
Elevated into a fulltime assistant role with the Sharks at the beginning of the 2014 season, Shepherd had previously been in charge of the clubs NYC squad, guiding the Sharks under 20’s to within one game of the 2011 Grand Final.
As a player, Shepherd represented the Sydney Roosters in a handful of games in the top grade, as well as in over 100 lower grade games for the Roosters and the North Sydney Bears.
Shepherd will begin in the official role of head coach for this weekends’ match against the Penrith Panthers in Bathurst and will be supported by currently injured Sharks NRL player John Morris who will operate in an assistant’s capacity.