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Sydney Roosters assistant Craig Fitzgibbon puts honour above opportunity

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“It’s a matter of integrity. Those two are two of my closest friends, I shook hands and looked them in the eye and said, ‘I’ll be here this year and next year’, and I’ll be honouring that.

“I don’t want to have that over me, where I just jumped at a better offer or opportunity.

Craig Fitzgibbon with Roosters skipper Boyd Cordner at training last week.Credit:Getty Images

“I’ve been at the Roosters nearly 20 years. It’s not what I want to do. It’s not lost on me I could miss some opportunities – and I’m flattered by the attention – but I’m not going back on my word.

“We’re in a position to do well the next couple of years and I’m not walking away from that.”

The Warriors sacked Stephen Kearney last Saturday week, despite the coach doing his best to keep morale high while the players were stranded in Australia – away from loved ones in Auckland – because of COVID-19.

Todd Payten watched his side concede 50 points last Friday night during his first game in charge of an NRL side. He will no doubt be among the candidates added to the club’s wish list that was expected to be discussed for the first time by club officials at home in Auckland on Monday night.

Craig Fitzgibbon has been with the Bondi club nearly 20 years.

Craig Fitzgibbon has been with the Bondi club nearly 20 years.Credit:Action Photographics

Fitzgibbon was linked to the Newcastle job last year, only for fellow Roosters assistant Adam O’Brien to take the job. St George Illawarra, Canterbury and now the Warriors have been linked to the highly -respected Clive Churchill medallist.

The fact he will be off limits until the end of next year will not be lost on Dragons officials and fans, who are working out what to do with current coach Paul McGregor, whose deal expires at the end of 2021. Fitzgibbon spent his first two years in the top grade with the Steelers and then St George Illawarra before becoming a Roosters favourite.

Any job Fitzgibbon accepts will be a big comedown from working with the likes of James Tedesco, Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Luke Keary and the injured Victor Radley.

The former Steelers back-rower enjoys taking home an assistant’s pay packet, which can be anywhere north of $250,000 in club-land, plus anonymity, something all coaches give up when they step into the top job.

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“That’s not lost on me, but if you’re going to do it you have to be ready for it all,” Fitzgibbon said. “Every coach is under pressure, you just have to manage it as best you can.”

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