Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan’s role during his suspension has come under scrutiny. (Brett Costello)
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan’s role during his suspension has come under scrutiny. (Brett Costello)

Sharks coach Flanagan facing new ban from NRL

The NRL's investigation into the Cronulla Sharks salary cap scandal has uncovered evidence against coach Shane Flanagan dating back to his 2014 peptide suspension that has put his position at the club under threat.

Integrity unit investigators have questioned Flanagan in recent weeks about emails scanned from the club's internet server showing he was communicating with officials during his 12-month ban.

There was an edict, under the terms of his suspension, that the coach was to have no direct or indirect contact with players or officials.

However emails and phone messages reveal he conversed with senior staff while banned on issues relating to the 2015 season when he was free to return as head coach.

 

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan’s role during his suspension has come under scrutiny. (Brett Costello)
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan’s role during his suspension has come under scrutiny. (Brett Costello)

 

Off-contract player lists, welfare issues and long-term injury updates were all part of the correspondence.

Flanagan declined to comment but has denied he instigated any of the conversations with club officials at the time.

The Sharks fear the NRL will suspend Flanagan and/or heavily fine the club.

At the time peptide penalties were handed down, $400,000 of the Sharks fine was suspended. The money could now be at risk.

The chief executive at the time was Steve Noyce, who quit in October of 2014.

Noyce has refused to return text messages or phone calls from The Daily Telegraph.

 

Former Sharks CEO Lyall Gorman is also involved. (Adam Yip)
Former Sharks CEO Lyall Gorman is also involved. (Adam Yip)

 

Lyall Gorman, who replaced Noyce the following year, is also being questioned by the integrity unit over unrelated allegations of salary cap discrepancies.

Flanagan met with his manager Wayne Beavis on Tuesday to discuss his situation.

The current investigation is the reason why the Sharks have not yet extended Flanagan's contract, which is up in October 2019.

The NRL is treating the issue seriously and is expected to hand down a penalty against Flanagan next week.

Both Sharks chairman Dino Mezzatesta and CEO Barry Russell claim they have been kept in the dark by the NRL in relation to their 2016 premiership winning coach.

 

It seems some elements of the 2014 scandal are still unanswered.
It seems some elements of the 2014 scandal are still unanswered.

 

The salary cap issues are now being treated separately to the Flanagan case and the investigation will carry over until the new year.

The Daily Telegraph revealed in August the Sharks were under a salary cap investigation after serious issues were raised by the then new chief executive Barry Russell with the Cronulla board.

A decision was made to self-report to the NRL in relation to the matters which occurred prior to Russell taking over.

Investigators have since scanned mobile phones, the computers of employees and the club's internet server. Two directors have resigned.

Barry Russell took his concerns to the NRL. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
Barry Russell took his concerns to the NRL. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Details have emerged of a fake invoice scam and a dodgy bank loan that was used to pay at least one player.

Questions were raised about Flanagan's involvement with the club in the year of his suspension.

He had to get permission from the integrity unit to attend Holden Cup games in which his son Kyle was playing.

The NRL integrity unit refused to answer the following questions from The Daily Telegraph.

# Can you confirm Shane Flanagan has been questioned over emails from 2014 that showed he was communicating with staff during his suspension?

# Has Steve Noyce and/or Damien Keogh been interviewed in relation to emails exchanged with Flanagan in 2014?

# How how many emails were exchanged?

# When is the NRL likely to hand down a penalty against Flanagan?

A spokesman said: "The Integrity Unit advises it cannot comment on any investigations until they are completed."



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