Craig Fitzgibbon (born 16 June 1977) is an Australian professional rugby league coach and a former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s and is the current head coach of Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.

Craig Fitzgibbon
Personal information
Born (1977-06-16) 16 June 1977 (age 46)
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Height191 cm (6 ft 3 in)
Weight104 kg (16 st 5 lb)[1]
Playing information
PositionSecond-row, Lock, Prop
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1998 Illawarra Steelers 20 2 38 0 84
1999 St. George Illawarra 15 4 25 0 66
2000–09 Sydney Roosters 229 37 664 0 1476
2010–11 Hull F.C. 44 9 9 0 54
Total 308 52 736 0 1680
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2001–08 NSW Country 5 0 5 0 10
2002–08 Australia 19 3 50 0 112
2003–08 New South Wales 11 1 20 0 44
2011 Exiles 1 0 0 0 0
Coaching information
Club
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2022– Cronulla Sharks 61 41 0 20 67
Representative
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2016–17 NSW Country 2 0 0 2 0
Source: [2][3][4][5]
As of 31 March 2024

A New South Wales State of Origin and Australia international representative goal-kicking forward, he played in the NRL for the Illawarra Steelers and St. George Illawarra Dragons as well as for the Sydney Roosters, with whom he won the 2002 NRL Premiership. Fitzgibbon then played in the Super League for Hull FC. He was also the last coach of the Country New South Wales rugby league team.

Early years edit

The son of former professional rugby league footballer and coach Allan Fitzgibbon, Craig Fitzgibbon played his first game of junior football with the Dapto under-9Bs. His heroes as a child were Gavin Miller, Bradley Clyde and Andrew Ettingshausen.[6]

Playing career edit

National Rugby League edit

Fitzgibbon began his playing career for the Illawarra Steelers in 1998. In his first season, he was the Steelers' top point-scorer and was named rookie of the year. Following the Steelers' joint-venture with St. George, he played for the joint-venture club St. George Illawarra Dragons. Fitzgibbon played from the bench in the 1999 NRL Grand Final, scoring the first try in St. George Illawarra's 20–18 loss.[citation needed]

 
Roosters forward Craig Fitzgibbon kicking a conversion in a finals match against the Warriors, 2008.

Fitzgibbon subsequently transferred to the Sydney Roosters in 2000. He played at second-row forward and scored a try in the Roosters' 2000 NRL Grand Final loss to the Brisbane Broncos. Eventually, Fitzgibbon won a premiership with the Roosters, playing at second-row forward in their 2002 NRL grand final victory over the New Zealand Warriors and winning the Clive Churchill Medal for his best-on-ground performance.[citation needed]

Having won the 2002 NRL Premiership, the Sydney Roosters travelled to England to play the 2003 World Club Challenge against Super League champions, St Helens R.F.C. Fitzgibbon played at second-row forward, scoring a try and kicking nine goals in Sydney's victory. In the 2003 NRL grand final Fitzgibbon played in the second row and was the Roosters' goal-kicker in their loss to the Penrith Panthers. After that he was selected to go on the 2003 Kangaroo tour. Fitzgibbon played for the Roosters at second-row forward in their 2004 NRL grand final loss to cross-Sydney rivals, Canterbury-Bankstown. Fitzgibbon was selected in the Australian team to go and compete in the end of season 2004 Rugby League Tri-Nations tournament. In the final against Great Britain he played from the interchange bench and kicked two goals in the Kangaroos' 44–4 victory.

In 2006, Fitzgibbon succeeded Luke Ricketson as captain of the Sydney Roosters. On 12 August 2006, he became the highest scoring forward in premiership history, surpassing ex-Canberra Raiders back-rower David Furner. Fitzgibbon passed the previous record of 1218 points by converting winger Sam Perrett's third try in the 64th minute after beginning the match four points behind the Canberra forward. In August 2008, Fitzgibbon was named in the preliminary 46-man Kangaroos squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup,[7][8] and in October 2008 he was selected in the final 24-man Australia squad.[9] On 16 May 2009 it was announced that Craig had signed a one-year deal, with the option of a second year, with Super League side Hull F.C. for the 2010 season.[1]

 
Craig Fitzgibbon lining up a conversion in 2009

Super League edit

Craig Fitzgibbon was selected for the Exiles squad for the Rugby League International Origin Match against England at Headingley on 10 June 2011.[10] On 3 September 2011 Fitzgibbon suffered a fracture and ligament damage to his ankle and announced his retirement at the age of 34. On the 26 September announced he would return to the Sydney Roosters in 2012 as a part of its Coaching Staff [2]

Highlights edit

  • Played in the 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 & 2004 Grand Finals (scored 3 tries & kicked 9 goals for 30 points)
  • Won the Clive Churchill Medal in the 2002 Grand Final
  • Played 8 games for New South Wales 2003–2005 (scored one try & kicked 16 goals for 36 points)
  • Played 15 games for Australia 2002–2005 (scored 3 tries & kicked 39 goals for 90 points)
  • Played 4 games for Country vs. City 2002, 2004, 2005 & 2006
  • Craig Fitzgibbon is the highest point scoring forward (1560 points)
  • Has played 239 first grade games (scored 39 tries & kicked 700 goals for 1560 Points)
  • Has kicked over 600 goals for the Sydney Roosters
  • One of the last remaining Illawarra Steelers players (Along with Trent Barrett and Luke Patten)

Coaching career edit

On 24 August 2015, Fitzgibbon was named as coach for the Country New South Wales rugby league team, replacing Trent Barrett for 2016.[11] Fitzgibbon announced in April 2021 that he had signed a three-year contract to coach the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks from 2022 onwards. Fitzgibbon was forced to miss coaching the Sharks' first game of the 2022 NRL season as he was in isolation due to contracting COVID-19.[12] Assistant coach Steve Price deputized for him, with Fitzgibbon working remotely. In Fitzgibbon's first year as Cronulla head coach, he guided the club to a second place finish on the table which qualified the club for the finals. However, Cronulla would exit the finals series in disappointing fashion, going out in straight sets after losing to North Queensland in extra-time and then to South Sydney the following week.[13]

On 14 February 2023, Fitzgibbon signed a five-year contract extension to remain as Cronulla's head coach until the end of the 2027 season.[14] Fitzgibbon guided Cronulla to a sixth place finish in the 2023 NRL season. Cronulla would go on to be eliminated in the first week of the finals being upset by the Sydney Roosters 13-12.[15]

References edit

  1. ^ "Hull F.C." web page. Hull F.C. Retrieved 10 August 2011.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Rugby League Project
  3. ^ NRL Stats[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Rugby League Project Coaches
  5. ^ loverugbyleague
  6. ^ Matt Logue (21 May 2008). "My first...". Rugby League Week. p. 33.
  7. ^ Liam FitzGibbon (1 August 2008). "Surprises in Kangaroos squad". "Fox Sports News (Australia)". Archived from the original on 8 August 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  8. ^ "Veteran Lockyer named in Australian squad". International Herald Tribune. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  9. ^ "Manly six win Australia call-up". BBC. 7 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  10. ^ "Warrington dominate Exiles picks for Origin fixture". bbc.co.uk. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  11. ^ http://crlnsw.com.au/fitzgibbon-to-coach-country/
  12. ^ Pengilly, Adam (9 March 2022). "Sharks coach Fitzgibbon to miss first NRL coaching game due to COVID-19". smh.com.au. Nine Media. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  13. ^ "Young gun who can solve Sharks' big problem; masterstroke that can't be overlooked: Brutal Review". www.foxsports.com.au. 19 September 2022.
  14. ^ "Sharks lock down coach Fitzgibbon on FIVE-YEAR deal following stellar rookie season". www.foxsports.com.au. 14 February 2023.
  15. ^ "Sydney Roosters score 'wild' 13-12 NRL elimination final win over Cronulla Sharks, Penrith Panthers beat Warriors". ABC News. 9 September 2023.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Josh Hannay (interim)
2021
Coach
 
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

2022-present
Succeeded by
Incumbent

External links edit

Preceded by Clive Churchill Medallist
2002
Succeeded by
Preceded by Sydney Roosters Captain
2006–2008
Succeeded by