“Seriously, you talk about left-field and you couldn’t get any further left. How it got air time, and continues to get air time, still amuses me. I haven’t spoken to the guy, I’ve never met the guy but obviously I know who he is.
“When I was first asked about it, unfortunately – and I didn’t mean to be disrespectful – I said ‘Sorry, who?’
“I wasn’t thinking, it was rugby union and someone overseas. Put simply, John Morris is our coach and he has a contract.
“That contract is in place today and we have a job ahead of us. As a group and a team, we are committed to this place and we all have a job we do in our little environments. The guy is on contract and there’s no way I’m speaking to anyone else.
“He’s on contract until the end of next year. If anything, those discussions don’t take place until the end of the year because I’m sure, for his benefit, he’d like to know for next year and beyond.
“But as a group and as a club, we’re committed to getting through what’s in front of us today. That’s our comment, it’s that simple.
“Eddie Jones and all of these names that have been thrown around the place, it’s certainly not on our agenda.”
Morris, who took over from Flanagan when he was deregistered, accepted the position at a challenging time. The former 300-gamer was burdened with a salary cap penalty and a roster many believe is top heavy with big-name players not living up to their pay cheques. Despite a long injury list, Morris guided the Sharks to an unlikely finals appearance in his rookie season.
Asked if Morris was doing a reasonable job given the situation, Mezzatesta said: “I’d rather not comment on any of that because you have to remember that when he stepped into the role, he knew exactly what was there. We all did.
“I don’t want to talk about history any more, this is all about moving forward. History is history, we recognise what history is. He is the coach of our team, he is the one responsible to get the players out there and get results.
“We talk about pressure but every coach is under pressure week in and week out. I don’t care what club you are, everyone is trying to get the two points and there are eight coaches every weekend feeling pretty good about themselves and eight coaches going back to the drawing board trying to figure out what went wrong. It’s that simple.”
Mezzatesta is Cronulla’s third CEO within the space of 12 months. Former skipper Paul Gallen appeared to reference the situation in a radio interview in which he said there was “changeover at all sorts of levels”.
Asked about Gallen’s comments, Mezzatesta said: “I didn’t know about the [subsequent] article but I got a message from Gal.
“Gallen is instrumental at this club regardless of what role he continues to play or when he speaks about the club.
“He’s obviously highly influential and has a role to play, but I don’t think there’s any malice in him talking about any instability. I’d hope that he’d said that we have stability and that’s where we’re heading. I’m pretty sure that’s what he had to say.”
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.