Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has no concerns about newly appointed Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon stealing Tricolours stars and says “it’s time” for his long-time assistant to step up as an NRL head coach at the Sharks.
After a successful nine-year stint with the Roosters as an assistant under Robinson, Fitzgibbon will take on the reins at the Sharks from next season.
His appointment at Cronulla could prompt him to use his relationship with Roosters players to lure them to the Shire, like ex-Penrith assistant Trent Barrett at Canterbury with Panthers playmaker Matt Burton.
But Robinson isn’t worried about Fitzgibbon signing Roosters players as part of his Cronulla rebuild.
“No, there is not that concern,” Robinson said frankly, even though the Roosters have 20 players off contract in the next two seasons.
“There is a code between coaches on how all that works and an understanding.
“The loyalty is where it lies though.
“It’s a tough one to even question Fitz on that – his character is just unblemished in our game.
“I’m really happy for Fitz (to join Cronulla).
“He has done 20-odd years of service; he is a life member of this club and we can’t ask anymore from him.”
Craig Fitzgibbon has given the Sydney Roosters 20 years of loyal service as a player and assistant coach. Picture: Craig WilsonSource:News Limited
After working closely with Fitzgibbon for almost a decade at the Roosters in a coaching capacity, Robinson has seen first-hand how effective he is as a coach.
He has also witnessed the man nicknamed “Fitzy” display honourable and respectful intentions that will hold him in good stead as a NRL head coach.
“He’s ready,” he said.
“He’s been ready for a couple of years, but he‘s also been loyal for that reason.
“He‘s got the characteristics and traits that you want to mimic as a young player. You admire who he is by the way that he stands.
“And then he‘s also got a balance there. He’s got an understanding of what a player goes through but can understand all different levels of players.
“His character is his strength, but then he’s layered on all the footy knowledge and all the technical and tactical needs as well.
“So, it‘s time for Fitz.”
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