Dumped St George Illawarra coach Steve Price could make a return to the NRL as soon as this week after he, video referee Andrew Dunemann and Brett Kimmorley emerged as Cronulla coaching candidates in the wake of interim coach Peter Sharp's sudden departure.
Sharp's assistant, James Shepherd, took control of the team's training session on Tuesday and the former Roosters first-grade player could remain in charge of the side for the rest of the season after the club missed out on Australian coach Tim Sheens.
Sheens was earmarked as a potential replacement after Sharp finally succumbed to the unrelenting pressure. However, Sheens rejected the club's overtures, preferring to concentrate on his role with the Australian Kangaroos.
It is understood that Sharp had been suffering with stress of late and skipped the club's crisis meeting on Monday - where Todd Carney's sacking was discussed among the playing group for the first time - to attend a pre-booked medical appointment. He made the decision to end his two-and-a-half-year association with the club on Monday night, ending a reluctant season-long stint as head coach in the wake of Shane Flanagan's one-year ban.
Price, Dunemann and Kimmorley have all been considered by the club. Price wants a multi-year deal to remain as an assistant to Flanagan, while Dunemann is looking to return to coaching after taking charge of the Raiders for three games at the end of last year following David Furner's sacking. Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen has openly thrown his support behind appointing Kimmorley in the past, who is an assistant at Canberra.
Gallen said his recent remarks that the players are not giving their all because of the impression Sharp ''isn't putting 100 per cent in'' played no part in Sharp's decision to step down.
''I have got no negative feeling towards what he has done and no positive feelings towards what he has done,'' Gallen said. ''It is his decision and me and Sharpy, we had a great win last Friday night and we sat up to midnight having drinks together.
''I know Sharpy wasn't happy with the comments written about him last week in the paper; he didn't like the pressure on him publicly, which unfortunately, as a first grade head coach, is going to come. He didn't want to deal with that any more, which is fine.
''I am in Origin camp this week and I am pretty glad to leave those decisions up to Noycey (Cronulla chief executive Steve Noyce) and the board.''
Shepherd - who has coached lower grades at Balmain and worked as a recruitment officer for the Storm - was again going to be the club's under 20s coach this season before being promoted to assist Sharp following Flanagan's suspension. He oversees the club's recruitment and has coached the NSW under 17s. He has started to prepare the side for its clash against Sydney Roosters on Saturday.
Gallen revealed he had spoken with Sheens about joining the club for the rest of the year.
''I spoke to him this morning [Tuesday] and tried to twist his arm,'' Gallen said. ''I understand [him knocking us back]. There's nine weeks to go, he's in a heavy phase at the moment of getting ready for the Four Nations, which is big and means a lot to Sheensey. I know how much effort he puts into it. I respect his decision.
''There's been a few names tossed up [to coach] and I don't know where they are going to go, I really don't."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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