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Banned Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan fuming over Todd Carney farce

Shane Flanagan says he's shattered he will not get the chance to coach Todd Carney, conceding the playmaker's sacking will only make it harder for Cronulla to climb from the bottom of the NRL ladder.

Flanagan was looking forward to rekindling his working relationship with Carney at Cronulla when his NRL suspension concludes on September 17. However, the Sharks opted to terminate Carney's $3 million-plus deal following the publication of a lewd photo of the playmaker in a pub toilet.

"I'm disappointed by the whole thing," Flanagan said.

"I'm disappointed for Todd, first, for the club, for the fans. When you get right down the chain I'm disappointed he won't be there for me next year when I'm back. He's a match winner and that's the footy coach coming out of me. I'm disappointed, cranky, filthy, upset with him that it's happened.

"It's out of my control and I've just got to concentrate on making sure the kid is all right. I'm communicating via text every day. No one will desert him.

"He's made a few bad decisions and he's dealing with that more than anyone. I'm sure he could change a few of the things he's done now."


Flanagan said he faced the difficult task of finding a replacement playmaker when he resumes coaching duties.

"It's not easy to find anyone of that calibre," he said.

"Todd turned our team around last year. He's a dangerous attacking player, he makes people around him more dangerous. When he plays well, we win. You saw on Friday night he had four try assists against Brisbane. If he doesn't play, we probably don't win. It's a massive loss to the club from a selfish point of view, but it's done. They say no person is bigger than the club and we have to move on now, the decision has been made. Some will agree or disagree but we need to move on."

Flanagan, who went out of his way to lure Carney to the Shire, said the club and the NRL would stand by him to ensure his welfare.

"In the end, they know winning footy games is a lot easier with Todd Carney in the team," he said.

"Hopefully he can go on and play rugby league or union and maybe one day we will see him back in the NRL."

Flanagan conceded the decision to appoint Peter Sharp as a caretaker head coach in his absence was, in hindsight, a mistake. However, he said no one expected Sharp to have to hold the fort for so long when the appointment was made.

"It wasn't just me asking him, he was an assistant coach at the club and my appeal went well and truly into April and March," he said.

"There was always the hope from most people I could be back after the appeal and business would go on as usual.

"It was March, Sharpey was the best person in the place and he said he'd do the job. Whether it was right or wrong, time has told it may not have been the right thing. But he tried his arse off, he worked hard and no one would have predicted that injury toll at the start of the season.

"If we had our best team, we could have won three or four out of five and it would have been a different start to the season.

"People can lay in the boot but I and other people who have worked with him know he's a good coach. Is he best suited to an assistant's role? Maybe. It's easy in hindsight but he's a good person, knows his rugby league and it just didn't work out."

Flanagan predicted Sharp would not be lost to the game.

"He will find a job in rugby league, it may be a different role," he said.

"He's got a good eye for talent, was involved with the Johns boys early in his career, worked under Brian Smith at Parramatta and knows how it works. He's a good coach and good person."

The Sharks have lurched from one crisis to another in Flanagan's absence. They have no coach, no sponsor and no star playmaker. However, Flanagan insisted the future was bright and that the ASADA investigation would have torn asunder a weaker club.

"If any club had the ASADA issue hanging over them for two NRL seasons, there would be more cracks in their organisations than ours," he said.

"Our people have stuck strong even though it's been tough.

"[ASADA] came into the group and told them they wouldn't start the season. That was in 2013 and we went on to play one game off a grand final qualifier,'' Flanagan said.

''It's hung over us again this year. The whole management of the whole thing, from government to club to journalist to players, have been awful.

"I know the new board and management have done an outstanding job. If we had this board in place when the federal government made the announcement, we would not be in this position.

"We'll be fine. We've got Michael Ennis coming to the club, he's a leader and quality person. We've still got [Luke] Lewis, [Paul] Gallen and [Andrew] Fifita in that mix as Origin players and Wade Graham as an emerging one. We've got a good roster, we'll be right."