NRL finds $400,000 Sharks ‘bombshell’
CRONULLA coach Shane Flanagan is being investigated by the NRL after the code's integrity unit uncovered evidence he communicated with the club during his 12-month suspension in 2014.
The Daily Telegraph exclusively reports that Flanagan has been questioned after emails scanned from the Sharks' internet server as part of the NRL's ongoing salary cap probe raised the suspicions of investigators.
There was an edict, under the terms of Flanagan's suspension, imposed following the supplements scandal that engulfed the club, that the coach was to have no direct or indirect contact with officials and players.
The report says emails and phone messages revealed he conversed with senior staff on issues relating to the 2015 season when he was free to return as head coach.
If Flanagan is found to have broken any rules, he could face another ban and the Sharks a big financial penalty.
The club were fined $1 million by the NRL as punishment for the supplements saga, with $400,000 of that suspended.
The Telegraph's Phil Rothfield reports that $400,000 is now at risk.
The evidence against Flanagan has reportedly forced the NRL to launch a separate investigation into the head coach which is expected to be completed next week.
The ongoing Cronulla salary cap investigation surrounding the self reported discrepancies surrounding up to $250,000 in payments from the 2015 season and the 2017 season is now expected to continue into 2019.
The ongoing probes further cloud Flanagan's future at the club.
He remains out of contract at the end of the 2019 NRL season, despite the club's winning form on the field.
Cronulla last week insisted a deal with Flanagan is imminent.
It seems unthinkable given his standing within the club's pantheon after helming 2016's drought-breaking premiership win.
He goes into 2019 having coached 185 games at the club and will in round 23 next year surpass John Lang's (206 games) mark for most games in charge of the Sharks.
His son, playmaker Kyle Flanagan, earlier in the week signed a three-year contract extension.
And CEO Barry Russell says they intend to keep both Flanagans in the Shire for the foreseeable future.
"Again there has been speculation as to Shane Flanagan's future," he said in a letter to the club's members.
"We are in discussions with a view to finalising his future as soon as possible."
The potential $400,000 fine would be a further hammer blow to the financially struggling club.
The Telegraph reported last week the club had lost all three major jersey sponsors after the 2018 season and is heading into 2019 with a $2 million commercial revenue shortfall.
The club recently tried to slash costs, including the decision to make up to 10 senior staff redundant, following a 2018 season where the club reportedly lost $3 million.
It was revealed recently the Sharks' off-field player behaviour issues resulted in potential jersey sponsor IKON Services Australia walking to premiership rivals Sydney Roosters.
- with AAP