Todd Greenberg has labelled Shane Flanagan ‘disrespectful’ after revealing the full extent of his attempts to defy his 2014 suspension.
The Cronulla coach has been sensationally de-registered by the NRL for breaking strict rules by communicating with the club while suspended.
The Sharks have also been fined $800,000 – half of which was suspended at the time over their supplements saga.
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Flanagan and the club have until the end of January to respond to a breach notice, which is when the NRL will make its final determination.
Until then Flanagan cannot have any official involvement with the club.
To avoid punishment it appears the Sharks will have to successfully counter evidence found by the NRL integrity unit that more than 50 emails were sent by Flanagan concerning retention and recruitment.
His first correspondence was sent just weeks after his suspension and continued all the way to September 2014.
The club is believed to have initiated most of the discussions, resulting in the extra $400,000 fine.
No other Cronulla officials have been punished because then-CEO Steve Noyce and then-football manager Darren Mooney are no longer NRL officials.
At the time, NRL integrity unit investigators met with both club representatives and Flanagan’s manager to ensure the coach had no contact with the club.
Flanagan’s communications emerged when the integrity unit investigated the club into self-reported salary cap breaches in 2015.
“We’ve done a number of interviews with a number of people that are either at the club now or who have left the club,” Greenberg said.
“And obviously we’ve had access to the servers at the club so we’ve trawled through a number of emails.
“The evidence in front of me to make this decision was very strong.”
Towards the end of his suspension in September, Flanagan sent another email to the NRL unequivocally stating he had no involvement in retention during his ban.
Asked to describe Flanagan’s behaviour during his suspension period, NRL chief executive Greenberg replied: “Disrespectful.
“Fundamental to the rules of the game and the integrity of the game that we work in is people being honest and truthful
“It cuts to the very core of the fabric of what the game’s rules stand for and we can’t sit around and watch that happen under the way the rules are governed.”
Fox Sports reporter Cody Kaye summed it up after Wednesday’s press conference: “Flanagan blatantly lied.”
Greenberg met with Sharks chairman Dino Mezzatesta and chief executive Barry Russell to inform them of the decision on Wednesday morning.
Flanagan was invited to the meeting but declined to attend.
Asked whether Flanagan would be allowed to work in the game again, Greenberg said: “The first part he’d have to do is comply with the rules of the sanction in the first place.
“But that’d be something we’d consider after the final determination is made.”