Brett Kimmorley has what it takes to make a fist of the toughest coaching assignment in the NRL, according to long-time adversary Brett Finch.
Kimmorley is favoured to take over at Cronulla for next season, after the NRL provisionally suspended Shane Flanagan for putting the health and safety of players at risk during 2011.
Finch, another veteran halfback who played against Kimmorley for the majority of his career, said Cronulla could do worse than hire the 37-year-old former Sharks playmaker to take the reins.
Should Flanagan’s 12-month ban be upheld, whoever steps into his shoes faces a major challenge, given the Sharks are likely to reappoint their spiritual leader once his suspension has been served.
But Finch said Kimmorley’s deeds as an Origin and Test No.7 demanded respect, and he believes the current Canberra assistant has the football brain and coaching experience to be a success at short notice in difficult circumstances.
“Without a doubt. As a player he was ultra competitive and tough as nails. So I’m sure that would come across in his coaching as well,” Finch told AAP.
“Obviously being a halfback he was a very smart, tactical player.
“He’s done a bit of assistant coaching at Canberra and also at the Bulldogs and spent a large majority of his career at the Sharks.
“He’s very familiar with the players and the club so you’d think it would be a very good fit for him.”
Finch was a junior at Newcastle and the Hunter Mariners when Kimmorley was starting to make a name for himself as an NRL star.
Kimmorley’s status was confirmed when he marshalled Melbourne to the premiership in 1999, and for a period he even kept Andrew Johns out of playing halfback for Australia and NSW.
He’s keen to pursue a head coaching career, and after an uneasy relationship with Canberra coach Ricky Stuart in the past, it’s unlikely the Raiders would stand in Kimmorley’s way if the Sharks offered him a job.
Flanagan has until January 15 to respond to charges by the NRL that he failed to look after the health of players in 2011 when the supplement program being examined by ASADA was in place.
For the time being assistant Peter Sharp will act as caretaker coach – though he shares a close bond with Kimmorley as his former coach at the Northern Eagles and at junior levels in Newcastle.