The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks are a professional rugby league team from Australia that are based in Cronulla, which is located in the Sutherland Shire of Sydney, New South Wales. The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks are competitors in the National Rugby League (NRL) – the premier rugby league competition for the Australasian region.
The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have been around for decades, competing in the national rugby league NRL since the 60’s and in the competitions predecessor prior to that. The Sharks have experienced some success in recent years after decades of being the under-dog. They have a support base of loyal fans, mostly hailing from the Sutherland Shire region of Sydney.
The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks boast an impressive roster of players, but have experienced some set-back recently. In the space of only a few months, the Sharks have been subjected to financial woes, salary capping, limited to no sponsorship, player walkouts and the deregistering of their coach. Luckily the club thrives under pressure and seems to rise to the challenge. The next few years are surely set to be big ones for the club, and after breaking their 50+ premiership drought they’re certainly ones to watch.
The Sharks were originally founded as Cronulla-Caringbah in 1963. They were admitted into the New South Wales Rugby League premiership in 1967. Since then, the club has competed in every premiership season. During the Super league war they joined the rebel competition, before competing in the re-unified National Rugby League.
The Sharks have been involved in the National Rugby League since 1967, competing for more than 50 years. In that time, they have made appearances in four Grand Finals. The Cronulla-Caringbah Sharks won their first premiership in 2016, during a match that saw them defeat Melbourne Storm at ANZ stadium.
The Sharks have been the runners-up on three occasions, twice during the 70s and once in the 90s. They have won two minor premierships, once in 1988 and the again in 1988.
The club has hosted some impressive star players over the decades. Notably, Steve Rogers who made his debut in the 70s and was the highest points scorer for the club with 1255 points. Gavin Miller was also part of the Shark team and has the distinction of being one of only three players in the club to ever earn a Dally M medal.
Andrew Ettingshausen is also a well know Sharks player. He holds an impressive list of records, including the record for most games played for the club (328), the record for the most tried scored in the club (165) and he was the most capped Sharks Origin player. Despite this, he is known for being one of the greatest NRL players never to win a premiership.
The Cronulla Sutherland Leagues Club is known as Sharkies, and is located on Captain Cook Drive at Woolooware.
Like most of the NRL clubs, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks rely on a mix of broadcasting deals, Leagues club earnings and merchandise to keep them going. In recent years the club has stuggled with financial woes. The 2018 season saw the club lose $3 million, which resulted in the club sacking 10 staff members. The clubs coach was also de-registered in the same year, as a result of his contact with coach Shane Flanagan during a suspension period, served in 2014. Club policy required strict no contact rules to be adhered to during his suspension. When the NRL integrity unit discovered the misconduct they handed out a hefty $800,000 fine to the club.
Initially when the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks entered the competition in 1967, their home base was located at Sutherland Oval. Home games were only played at this site for two years however. The Sharks won their first game at Sutherland Oval on the 22nd April 1967. Their record for attendance at this home ground was set during their last game played on the ground, with an attendance of 12,578 spectators. They lost the game to Canterbury-Bankstown, who are now known as the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. The Sharks won four games, lost 11 and drew one game in total at the Sutherland Oval venue.
In 1969 the made the move to Endeavour Field, which remains their home even today. The name of this field has changed a number of time over the decades. It has been called Ronson Field, Shark Park, Toyota Park, and it was known as Toyota Stadium up until 2012. For the year of 2013 the home ground returned to its original name, Endeavour field. A new sponsorship deal was later struck in 2016 with Southern Cross Group, who changed the name of the stadium to the Souther Cross Group Stadium . The sponsorship deal is a three year deal, which is reportedly worth $1.5 million.
The Sharks current home base, Southern Cross Group Stadium has a capacity of 22,000. The record for attendance was set during a game against local rival club, the St George Illawarra dragons in 2004, 22,302 people were in attendance.
John Morris is the club’s current head coach. Morris is a former professional Rugby League player who has played on a number of NRL teams including the Newcastle Knights, Parramatta Eeels, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and the Wests Tigers. Morris became the teams full time coach in 2019 following the de-registering of previous club coach, Shane Flanagan.
Emblem and Colours
The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks initially used a teal jersey with a white V in their maiden season, this was based on the Cronulla Surf Life Saving club and differed from their second division team colours, which were chocolate and gold. The colours change later changed to sky blue and grey.
The club did not originally use the name the Sharks, the name came later into their admission into the competition. In the beginning their emblem incorporated a design with Captain Cook’s ship. When considering new names, it is believed that the club President initially considered the Lions. The captain as the time Ken Kearney suggested the Sharks however.
From the time of adopting the name in the late 70’s through to the late 90’s, the club used a design that incorporated a blue shark into a black circle. The crest changed in 1997 to a blue and white design. For a short period, the clubs name was shortened to be only ‘The Sharks’ before it reverted to the original name in 2003. The logo was changed a third time in 2004, and this is still in use today.
The clubs Shark mascot is known as MC Hammerhead.
The Sharks main support base is The Cronulla-Sutherland Leagues Club, which is also known as Sharkies. The Leagues club is located on Captain Cook Drive in Woolooware and is located behind the Sharks home ground, the Endeavour Field.
There were proposals in place for many years to try and rejuvenate the Leagues club and stadium prior to the arrival of businessman Damain Irvine. Plans were finally put in place in 2012 to redevelop, helping to secure a better financial future for the club. The renovations are currently underway, however the disruptions are causing problems for some fans who hold expensive memberships with the club. Despite this the Sharks have many passionate supporters, including some notable celebrity fans such as Australian politician Scott Morrison, pro-skater Corbin Harris, author Markus Zusak, Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman, singer Shannon Noll, model Elle McPherson and many more.
The Sharks joined the League in 1967 as a result of the New South Wales Rugby Football League (NSWRFL) expanding, Penrith also joined the league at the same time. The Sharks and Penrith were the first to join the competition in 20 years.
The team initially debuted with Ken Kearney coaching. They gained immediate attention after defeating Eastern Suburbs in their first match. Despite the promising start, they finished last on the ladder that year.
They later moved home grounds in mid-1968, winning their first match against Parramatta.
The Sharks made it to their first ever grand final game in the 70s, losing 10-7 against Manly. They faced off against Manly again in 1978. They lead for most of the game, but lost in the latter half when Manly recovered enough to overtake them. During the 80s the team suffered from financial issues and were put into administration. The NSWRL provided them a loan. In the mid-eighties the team was benefitted by the arrival of coach Jack Gibson who got the club into good shape by 1987. The team won a minor premiership during the following season. They played again in the finals in 1989 but they lost to Canberra, who won the premiership that year.
The 1990s saw the team again struggling with financial troubles and poor form. Coach Arthur Beesom helped turned the team around but the club was forced into receivership in 1993. Joh Lang joined as the clubs coach in 1994, and remained in the position to 2001. During his tenure the club made the semi-finals every year, excluding 1994 and 1998.
When the Super League war began, The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks were one of the first teams to join the league. They made it to the grand final in that year but lost to Brisbane.
In 2002, John Lang was replaced by Chris Anderson who released a number of players. During this period a number of players departed unexpectedly and there was a lot of in-fighting in the team.
The following coach, Stuart Raper repaired club relations but saw the win percentage drop. Much of the remaining noughties was a mixed bag, with some less than stellar years to follow.
The Sharks financial issues came to light in 2009, and there were a number of scandals involving the club that reached the media. The CEO at the time was sacked, and a new team of directors came in to try and turn the financial situation around, as they were at risk of being foreclosed on. That year the club experienced their worst losing streak in history. In 2016 the club won their first premiership. They suffered further financial woes in 20018, but finished fourth. In 2019 it was revealed that the club would be moving away from their home ground for two seasons, due to the redevelopment of the stadium. They finished 7th for the 2019 season.
The Sharks hold open training sessions for their members to attend. This is a great opportunity to see the team in action, get an autograph or see your favourite player in action. The team usually post about when they are holding open training sessions for members to attend
The Sharks are involved in a number of community programs including the Sharks Have Heart community initiative which goals and programs including social inclusions actions such as mentoring and junior league interaction. Through the program the Sharks also tackle a number of issues such as bullying. They also contribute to a number of local community groups.