National Rugby League side Cronulla Sharks could "face the brutal reality" of having no coach from next Tuesday if the ARL Commission finds Shane Flanagan "committed a raft of alleged breaches" and imposes sanctions, according to Andrew Webster of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Flanagan is not "just facing allegations of contacting Sharks officials about player recruitment during his year-long suspension" in '14 for his "role in the peptides scandal." He is also "under heavy scrutiny for salary cap discrepancies that have surfaced since he returned to the club; discrepancies that have come into sharp focus" since Sharks CEO Barry Russell "self-reported to the NRL this year about possible cheating prior to Russell taking over in February." Russell did so when he "unearthed a minor indiscretion about an undeclared third-party agreement." Now, that "unprecedented honesty -- by rugby league standards -- could cost them the coach that delivered the Sharks their first premiership." The NRL integrity unit has, for six months, "combed through computer servers, laptops and mobile phones, including those belonging to board members." Its investigation into "potential salary cap breaches across the club is not yet complete, but the NRL felt it necessary to accelerate any punishment of Flanagan so the Sharks had time to find a new coach if required" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 12/13).
THE RIGHT MOVE: In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko wrote Russell "came in with the best of intentions." One of his "first appointments" was Jamie L'Oste-Brown as his new compliance and integrity manager. L'Oste-Brown’s last job was as the NRL’s salary cap manager, so when a "dodgy deal was brought to his attention from a senior staffer, there was only one thing to do." He informed Russell, "giving the new boss a big decision to make." Proszenko: "Does he turn a blind eye or take it to head office? To his credit, Russell did the latter." Russell said, "Like I said at the start, the integrity of our club, the respect for our members and fans (means) that we deal with any issue that’s there." Russell "did the right thing" but it does not "mean the Sharks will get off scot-free." However, Russell's honesty could "limit the damage to a club that is already financially under the pump" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 12/12).