Cronulla have installed assistants John Morris and Jim Dymock as their caretaker NRL coaches after the provisional deregistration of Shane Flanagan.
Sharks CEO Barry Russell said the club will be appealing the $800,000 fine imposed on them by the NRL with the hope of reducing the amount, but it was up to Flanagan whether he appeals his ban.
“I’ve got confidence in them for the time being,” captain Paul Gallen said of the assistant coaches on Wednesday.
Sharks insist they can win the comp
Defiant Cronulla chief executive Barry Russell insists the Sharks can win next year’s NRL premiership despite the deregistration of coach Shane Flanagan and an $800,000 fine adding to the club’s off-season woes.
The Sharks on Wednesday installed assistants John Morris and Jim Dymock as caretaker coaches after Flanagan’s sanctioning for communicating with club officials while suspended in 2014, and vowed to ride out the latest “speed bump” and survive financially.
Russell admitted the club was guilty entering discussions with Flanagan while suspended.
“I’ve been informed that there has been an enormous amount of communication between our head coach and those people throughout the suspension that Shane was under,” he said.
“And as CEO of the club, we have to accept responsibility that we broke the rules and if you break the rules there are consequences and we are paying for those right now.”
However Russell is hoping their co-operation with the NRL over an ongoing salary cap investigation would result in the fine being reduced.
“I self-declared a financial issue some time ago. It’s been an ongoing investigation and unfortunately it has led down a path to this 2014 issue as well as other cap issues,” he said.
“I think the fact we self-reported … we are working with the NRL, doing whatever we can to rectify the situation. And I feel if we cooperate which we are, we have solid grounds to reduce.”
But he left any decision around challenging Flanagan’s ban up to the shattered coach, and would wait until the matter was sorted with the 53-year-old before appointing a fulltime coach.
“Shane has an appeal process as well until the 31st of January. I haven’t had a detailed discussion with Shane about that, what he intends to do,” Russell said.
“He’s waiting on further correspondence to come through from the NRL, like we are, but I expect him to appeal that.”
Sharks captain Paul Gallen fronted the media alongside Russell, with senior stars Andrew Fifita, Matt Moylan, Josh Dugan, Matt Prior, Aaron Woods and Chad Townsend watching on in a unified show of solidarity.
Gallen pointed to their history of overcoming adversity as proof the club could recover from the loss of their premiership-winning coach.
“I’ve said it before about this club and I’ll say it again: it’s the most resilient brand in Australian sport,” Gallen said.
“We’ve faced going broke half a dozen times, we’ve been through scandals – a lot of it being our own fault – but we’re still here fighting and we’ll continue to be.
“Even when we were struggling years gone by, we’re still a side that other teams do not want to play.”
The extraordinary development comes as the Sharks battle to attract a jersey sponsor in time for the 2019 season.
Russell revealed being in discussions with two parties, but re-iterated that the Shire club was in a strong position to challenge for the premiership.
“Look at the squad we’ve got. We can win the premiership next year, I firmly believe that. This is a speed hump, a decent one, but we’ll get over it,” he said.