Team of the Half Century: Coach
Some sat high in the grandstands, others have preferred to get up close and personal in a seat on the sideline, but all have ridden every play, experienced the highs and agonised during the lows as head coaches of the Cronulla Sharks.
It’s a tough profession, with the 18 Sharks Coaches all having enjoyed their fair share of excitement and all the associated ups and downs that are a part of the job.
Some famous names have been at the helm in the Sharks 50 years, men such as John Raper, Jack Gibson, Greg Pierce, Arthur Beetson, Chris Anderson and Ricky Stuart, all successful in their own right in the game of rugby league, however such is the quality of the four nominees and the contribution they have made to the Sharks cause, none of the above make the nominees list for the Team of the Half Century.
That honour falls to two men who guided the Sharks into Grand Finals during the 1970’s, the Club’s longest serving coach and the man who managed to bring the NRL trophy home to the Shire after 50 years of trying.
The nominees include Tommy Bishop, the first and last captain coach of the Sharks and a man who led the club to their first Grand Final appearance.
Norm Provan, one of the greats of the game, a winner of multiple Grand Finals as a player and the Sharks coach in the 1978 Grand Final year.
John Lang, the Sharks longester serving coach and one who achieved great success, making numerous Finals series as well as the 1997 SuperLeague decider.
And Shane Flanagan, a man who has shown great resilience and character and who helped deliver the Sharks their long awaited premiership trophy.
All four have carved out their own special piece of Sharks history during their time at the club. Who would you put in charge of your Sharks Team of the Half Century.
An English international Bishop coached the Sharks for four seasons, with the 1973 Grand Final appearance the highlight of his time in charge. Moulded some Sharks greats of that era in Rogers and Pierce and helped put the Cronulla Club on the rugby league ‘map’ during their formative years.
114 games – 55 wins, 57 losses, 2 draws
A legendary name in rugby league as a multiple premiership winner as a player, Provan came within a whisker of delivering the Sharks first premiership when as coach his team forced a draw in the 1978 Grand Final, before going down in the subsequent replay. Coached the Sharks for two years and had the impressive win percentage of 62.
50 games – 31 wins, 17 losses, 2 draws
Lang managed to turn a team predominantly made up of local products into a premiership force during his eight seasons in charge. Coached the Sharks in the 1997 SuperLeague Grand Final loss, while qualifying for finals in six of his eight seasons as coach. Still stands as the longest-serving coach in Sharks history.
198 games, 126 wins, 75 losses, 5 draws
Flanagan reached rugby league’s ‘Holy Grail’ in 2016 when he helped steer the Sharks to their first NRL premiership. During the same season broke the record for consecutive wins (16) and excluding his first year in 2010 when taking over late as a caretaker, his teams have played finals football in four of five years.
133 games, 70 wins, 61 losses, 2 draws
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