Cronulla coach Flanagan cleared to return to club

One of the longest-running sagas in recent Rugby League history has been brought to an end, after it was today confirmed that Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has been cleared to return to the club in time for pre-season training on Monday.

Flanagan was stood down by the NRL in December last year, in relation to the Sharks’ controversial 2011 supplements program. However, after meetings and discussions took place with the NRL earlier this week, Flanagan is now free to resume his coaching duties with the club. However, he revealed that he has had to undergo training courses with the NRL, but says he is now determined to restore the Sharks’ reputation.

“I have a clearer understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a head coach,” Flanagan said.

“That role goes beyond player skills, tactics and game plans – I have a proactive duty to protect the welfare of players and staff and ensure we meet our governance and compliance obligations. I now intend to focus on the future and demonstrate that I am the right person to lead the cultural change at the Sharks.

“I am committed to restoring the reputation of the Sharks as a club that everybody in the game can be proud of.”

It has been a turbulent year for the Sharks; Catalan-bound half-back Todd Carney was sacked by the club, whilst club captain Paul Gallen was involved in an off-field incident. Interim coach Peter Sharp – who was put in charge when Flanagan was stood down – quit, leading to the Cronulla club finishing bottom of the NRL for the first time in 45 years.

“I’m really excited to be returning,” Flanagan said. “We have a quality playing roster which includes the likes of Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon, Wade Graham, Andrew Fifita, Chris Heighington and others, along with new recruit Michael Ennis and with hopefully a few more new signings to come. I’m certain we will be more than competitive next season.”